Ex-employee of elite school was not in charge of prospective student admissions when she scammed parents, court hears

Former colleague tells of how defendant was simply there to do paperwork

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 January, 2017, 7:34pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 January, 2017, 8:19pm

A former employee of an elite international school accused of scamming parents out of millions of dollars was never responsible for assessing prospective students for admissions, a Hong Kong court heard on Friday.

Chu Lau-ying, a former staff member of Harrow International School, is facing numerous charges for attempting to defraud parents out of up to HK$3.6 million on multiple occasions in 2015 and 2016.

On the fifth day of her trial, the District Court heard the defendant would liaise with prospective students’ parents regarding interview arrangements. But she was not responsible for deciding who would be admitted, an ex-colleague from the school’s admissions division said.

Cyme Leung Pui-wa, assistant registrar at the Tuen Mun school, said: “Chu did [mainly] the paperwork.”

Fearful mother tells of HK$1.5m ‘donation’ to top school

Earlier in the week, the court heard how a couple had paid HK$1.5 million in false donations to the defendant after Chu advised them that their daughter would not be accepted otherwise. Another parent of a prospective student allegedly paid Chu HK$600,000 as a false sponsorship payment.

In a third instance, Chu is accused of attempting to defraud another parent out of another HK$1.5 million by telling them their child was ranked low on a waiting list – the transaction did not go ahead.

Both parents who did pay the amount were advised to make a cheque out to the school’s “senior staff member” Ng Mei-chuen – Chu’s boyfriend at the time, now husband. Ng is a co-defendant in the case and is charged with dealing with proceeds of crime.

Former co-worker Leung told the court the school would issue debentures for subscriptions from prospective students’ parents, but payments were not to be made to individual staff members.

In a recorded interview conducted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Ng, a shoe cleaner by profession, said he was completely unaware of the alleged scams.

When investigators asked him about his wife’s job at Harrow Hong Kong, he said: “I don’t know much about [Chu’s] work. She rarely talked about it.”

He declined to confirm whether the bank accounts in which the alleged false donations were deposited were used by him.

Chu, 27 and Ng, 25, were released on bail in April. The trial continues on Monday.