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International schools

Former Hong Kong international school officer and husband guilty in HK$3.6 million fraud case over admission promise

Court finds pair made victims of families seeking places for their children

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 May, 2017, 8:57pm
UPDATED : Friday, 12 May, 2017, 12:28am

A former admissions officer and her husband were found guilty on Thursday of scamming HK$3.6 million out of parents eager to secure their children a place at the Hong Kong branch of an elite UK international school.

The District Court heard three families fell victim as they sought to enrol their children at Harrow International School Hong Kong. They were told that a donation would help improve their children’s chances and even gain them immediate admission if they were willing to pay more.

One mother recalled receiving a phone call for payment while she was with her friends, who subsequently told her that international schools in the city often required parents to pay sponsorships.

But Harrow International confirmed it never had a donation or sponsorship programme at the school granting admission priority to a donor.

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

Chu Lau-ying, 27, then responsible for processing applications and arranging interviews at the school, was found guilty of two counts of fraud and one of attempted fraud. Her husband, Ng Mei-chuen, 25, a leathersmith, was convicted of two counts of laundering crime proceeds. Sentencing was adjourned to May 31, pending reports.

The pair had previously denied all charges, but now expressed a willingness to compensate the victims.

Any philanthropic support for the school ... has no link to student admission in the school
Harrow International School

The case arose from a corruption complaint.

In response to the verdict, Harrow International reminded the parents of prospective students not to trust any requests for donations by unauthorised parties who claimed to facilitate enrolment. “Any philanthropic support for the school ... has no link to student admission in the school and is made with no expectation of favouritism or reward,” its statement read.

The defence had explained that Chu only deposited the payments into her husband’s account for safekeeping to help the parents pay school fees when necessary without raising the school’s suspicion.

Ng, meanwhile, testified that he knew little about his wife’s job but trusted her account of the payments.

Both claims were rejected by deputy judge Winnie Lau Yee-wan, who concluded that Ng was unreliable.