March verdict for ex-HKU surgery head

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2012, 12:00am


The District Court will hand down its verdict in March on a former University of Hong Kong head of surgery accused of misconduct and other offences.

John Wong, 71, is facing two counts of misconduct in a public office and two of false accounting. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and has been facing trial.

Judge Susana D'Almada Remedios adjourned the case to March 13 after prosecutors and Wong's defence lawyers made their closing submissions. Wong was released on bail.

Wong's barrister, Graham Harris SC, said Wong was a man of exemplary good character.

'He spent the entirety of his life serving the community, rising to the pinnacle of his profession,' the lawyer said. 'This was a man of international reputation, a man who has achieved excellence as a surgeon, a doctor, a teacher, a man who was known for his generosity and character. This is the sort of man you are dealing with in this case.'

The Independent Commission Against Corruption alleges Wong directed HK$731,347 from two bank accounts belonging to the Skills Development Centre to pay the salary and other employment-related expenses of a domestic helper-cum-driver. The centre, established by the department of surgery in 1995, provides medical training to students, interns, nurses and doctors.

The ICAC also says Wong failed to tell HKU that a subordinate of his, June Chan Sau-hung, had stolen more than HK$2.6 million from the centre's bank accounts between 2004 and 2006. He allegedly lent Chan funds to help repay the money in March 2007 to cover up the losses. Chan was jailed for 22 months in May 2010. Investigators say Wong allowed Chan to resign two months later without being investigated and to receive money from the university's staff provident fund.

Wong is also accused of falsifying entries in the directors' reports and accounts of Unisurgical - a company of which he was the sole shareholder and director - to show he had incurred overseas travel expenses of HK$696,935 and HK$74,123 in the years to March 31, 2006, and March 31, 2007, respectively.

As the 16-day trial neared its end yesterday, Harris reminded the judge that two of the witnesses who had testified against his client appeared to have personal agendas.

Chan had concealed the fact she had stolen money from the accounts, and now was hoping to have her sentence reduced on appeal, Harris said.

Wong said earlier during the trial that two senior judges had advised him that he could use his discretion about whether to report Chan's embezzlement. However, his accountant had recommended otherwise.

He said he decided not to report Chan on compassionate grounds as she needed to care for her 14-year-old niece, whose parents were among 14 tourists killed in a coach crash in Egypt in 2006.