We did not take any money, KPMG partners tell bribery trial

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 March, 2011, 12:00am

Two KPMG partners denied claims that they accepted money from a mainland consultant when they testified yesterday before the District Court trial of a junior colleague charged with accepting bribes.

All three were involved in the Christmas 2009 Hong Kong listing of sports fabric maker Hontex International Holdings.

Jack Chow Siu-liu and his colleague Money Chow Man-yee were called as witnesses for the prosecution and said they had not accepted any gifts or money from the Fujian-based company's consultant Chan Chau-wan, known as Sister Chan.

They were both senior to Leung Sze-chit, a KPMG manager who has been suspended by the firm. He denies two charges filed by the Independent Commission Against Corruption of accepting bribes from Chan in February last year, two months after the IPO.

Leung is alleged to have accepted HK$300,000 for himself and to have persuaded his assistant, Suki Lau Shuk-ting, to accept HK$100,000. Lau rejected the money and reported the case to KPMG's risk-management department, which referred it to the ICAC.

Piera Ho Wing-suen, partner in the risk-management department of KPMG, had earlier told the court that Leung had quoted Chan as saying 'it was easier to give money to your two bosses'. Leung told Ho that he assumed she was referring to the two Chows and believed that if his bosses could accept the cash, then so could he.

But Jack Chow told the court that he never accepted any money or gifts from Chan. In a written statement, he said that although he was the partner in charge, he had only spent seven hours on the Hontex matter, including three hours attending a ceremony and banquet to celebrate the listing.

Money Chow told the court that Sister Chan had given her an envelope with a box inside during a lunch in January last year.

'I refused to accept it as the company does not allow us to take gifts of more than HK$500,' she told the court. 'I considered the items inside the envelope could be valuable as Sister Chan tried to hide the envelope from the others.'

Chan suggested the then pregnant Chow accept the envelope as a gift for her baby, but she rejected it.

Money Chow also told the hearing that she was unaware Chan had offered cash to Leung and Lau as she had been on maternity leave. It was only on March 8 last year that she was told by several KPMG senior executives about the payment.

'I was surprised at the amount of money involved and I do not understand why Sister would give such a payment,' she said.

The hearing continues today.

The bucks stop here

The court heard KPMG allows employees to accept small gifts

The value must be no more than this amount, in Hong Kong dollars: $500