Mainland businessman jailed for six months after trying to bribe HSBC staffer with Chanel No.5

Judge says man’s crime was particularly serious as Hong Kong is ‘a financial city’ and it would have affected the city’s reputation

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 September, 2016, 8:42pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2016, 9:39am

A mainland businessman who attempted to bribe an HSBC assistant manager with a bottle of Chanel perfume to facilitate his bank account application was jailed for six months on Tuesday.

Principal magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen said in sentencing Chen Zhengxi that all violations of integrity are serious offences that cannot be punished lightly or it would bring darkness to society.

“Bribing a financial institution is different from bribing an ordinary commercial institution because Hong Kong is a financial city,” he said. “Any behaviour that goes wrong in this area, particularly one that involves corrupting a financial institution, would affect Hong Kong’s reputation. This has to be reflected in sentencing.”

Kowloon City Court previously heard that Chen, 44, was asked to submit further documents to support his application for a company account when the assistant manager found that he could not clearly explain the details of his business or the services he required from the bank.

But instead of simply submitting the documents, the director of Yangska Holdings (Hong Kong) left her a bottle of Chanel No. 5 in the bank office on July 12.

The offer was immediately turned down by the staff member, who explained that his application would be refused if she had accepted it.

Chen left after he collected the bottle and inquired if he could submit fewer documents to complete the application, to which the assistant manager replied that it would depend on what was submitted.

HSBC has recently tightened requirements for opening company accounts in Hong Kong to comply with anti-fraud regulations imposed by foreign governments over the past few years, and international anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing laws.

Chen said through his lawyer that he recalled the application was simpler when he first opened an account with the bank in 2012, only that account was now closed.

He had hoped that the gift would help him befriend the bank staff and facilitate his application, thinking that she had intentionally made his application difficult.

But the magistrate questioned why he did not reflect that to the bank and said the account of making friends was only “doublespeak” to disguise a criminal act.

Law also turned down a defence suggestion that it was a cultural difference in gift-giving that led Chen to believe it was acceptable to offer the perfume.

“Integrity is an accepted universal value. The defendant knew full well that bribery is illegal but still he chose to bring such a bad practice into Hong Kong,” he said. “This is a very serious offence.”