Engineer found guilty in golf sponsorship case
A senior government engineer received a suspended jail term yesterday for taking HK$30,000 from a contractor as sponsorship for golf games he organised for the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers.
The engineer spent all the money on the events and did not enjoy any personal gain.
Still, the magistrate said it was a serious conflict of interest for a senior government officer to seek a sponsorship from a party who had a direct work relationship with his department.
Wong Chiu-yau, 55, a senior engineer with the Highways Department, took HK$30,000 from Lee Wai-shing between December 2008 and January 2009.
Lee was a director of Sun Fook Kong (Civil), a company that had obtained a HK$130 million contract from the department.
Wong was found guilty yesterday in Kowloon City Court of two counts of a public servant soliciting an advantage and two of a public servant accepting an advantage.
He was sentenced to three years in prison, suspended for two years.
Wong was also ordered to pay HK$30,000 to the government.
Magistrate Timothy Casewell said the case involved a serious conflict of interest and almost amounted to corruption.
Casewell said he spared Wong an immediate jail term by taking into account his good character and the fact that he did not transfer any benefit to Lee because of the sponsorship.
Earlier yesterday, in mitigation, Wong handed in a letter written by Tsang Yok-sing, president of the Legislative Council. Tsang described Wong as a hard-working man.
Wong, who earned HK$100,000 a month, has been suspended from work since March 2009. A spokesman for the department said it would study the verdict before deciding whether Wong would face any further penalty.
The court had heard that during the period in question, Wong told Lee that he was organising a series of golf competitions for the engineers' organisation.
In two meetings at a hotel, Wong asked Lee to sponsor the events for HK$30,000. Wong did not give him a receipt.
Lee told the court he gave the money because his company had been sponsoring the institute's dinners for the past 10 years.
He did not answer Wong's calls afterwards, fearing that any requests for money would involve corruption, the court heard.
Wong was arrested by the Independent Commission Against Corruption in March 2009.
The engineer asked for the HK$30,000 from a director of a firm that had won a government contract worth, in HK$: $130m