'Persecuted' educator quit city over loan scandal
A former school supervisor accused of duping parents into lending money said she left Hong Kong after an accounting scandal came to light because she was tired of being persecuted by officials who knew she was not to blame.
Carman Liang Shuk-ching, 46, is accused of persuading two parents to lend HK$450,000 by claiming the money was needed to secure a merger between Pegasus Philip Wong Kin Hang Christian School and an international school. The money ended up in accounts linked to Liang. She is charged with two counts of fraud.
'My home was broken into by the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the locks were changed,' Liang, testifying in her own defence, told the District Court. 'I was followed.'
But Liang said even after the school's troubles over its two-year failure to submit budget reports to the Education Bureau became known in May 2009, one parent - Tam Chi-shuk, who had lent HK$200,000 - still had not sought repayment.
Liang left the city in July 2009, blaming media reports and pressure from education chiefs. She was arrested and charged on her return from Malaysia last year.
She told the court that at one meeting Education Bureau officials told her: 'We know there have been three school supervisors since the school was established. We know it was your two predecessors' problem. But we will only target you.'
Liang admitted buying two flats for HK$7 million in summer 2007, saying she covered the deposit with money inherited from her parents and a property sale. The purchases coincided with the parent loans to the school's sponsoring body, the Pegasus Social Service Christian Organisation.
Senior prosecutor Derek Lai Kim-wah put it to Liang that she used money from the loans to cover overdrafts in bank accounts, including a joint account held with her husband and the account of Wonderful Idea (HK), a private company set up on behalf of the organisation to run social enterprises, of which she was the sole shareholder and director.
Liang said she had injected HK$1 million of her own money into Wonderful Idea, which she told the court she did not own, and was entitled to repayment when the body had HK$5 million in various accounts.