Mortgage fraudster jailed after 9 years on the run

Court hears man jumped bail back in 2004 to look after his sick father and mentally ill sister

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 December, 2013, 4:46am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 December, 2013, 5:57am

A jobless man who jumped bail ahead of his trial for fraud nine years ago was jailed for 16 months yesterday after finally facing justice in the District Court.

Pong Yip-kee, 58, told the court that he never appeared for trial on October 29, 2004, because he had gone to the mainland to take care of his family in Fuzhou, Fujian province. That year saw his father diagnosed with dementia, his mother was elderly and his younger sister suffered from mental illness.

A month after his father died on August 29 this year, Pong returned to Hong Kong and surrendered to police. He has been in custody ever since.

Yesterday, he pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to defraud and one count of failing to surrender to custody.

The charges accused him of using forged bank, tax and employment documents to obtain a HK$2.49 million mortgage on a property and a HK$130,000 cash rebate in June 2003.

Prosecutor Jessie Sham Wing-yan said Pong purchased a property at Vision Court in Prince Edward Road, Kowloon City, for HK$2.63 million in June 2003 when the developer was offering buyers a cashback rebate after the completion of the purchase. Pong needed to pay a HK$10,000 preliminary deposit only.

But when he submitted documents to the bank to prove he had a stable job, staff discovered the documents were similar to other mortgage applicants who all claimed to be employed by the same company. Pong was called back into the bank on July 22, 2003, and arrested.

He told police that the ringleader behind the scam provided the documents. Pong was to keep the property and HK$100,000 of the cash rebate.

His arrest meant no losses were suffered, but, jailing him, Judge Susana D'Almada Remedios said it would have been a "profitable crime".

"It is a very serious commercial fraud and attracts an immediate custodial sentence," the judge added.

According to his lawyer Lam San-yin, Pong was a tour bus driver but lost his job in 2003. After his father's diagnosis he wanted to earn some quick money so agreed to join the scheme.

The police arrested 18 people in connection with the scam and charged 17 of them. In 2005, the ringleader Ken Chan Yin-yat, then aged 41, was jailed for seven years.