The Internet Professional Association has denied abusing public funds, as the city's graft-buster pointed to flaws in the firm's management of a government internet-learning project, implicating a leading candidate to be the next information-technology chief.
The association, or iProA, which attracted controversy last year over alleged political interference in the awarding of the government contract, was the subject of a recent report published by the Independent Commission Against Corruption's corruption prevention department.
The report alleged that one of the groups tasked with running the internet-learning programme for poor households, eInclusion Foundation - set up by iProA - had abused public funds because of lax monitoring, the Eastweek magazine said.
The ICAC report, which gave advice on how to prevent corruption after examining the HK$220 million project's operation last year, said some iProA staff worked part-time for eInclusion, but their salaries came from public funds.
Two of those staff saw a 50 per cent pay rise, the magazine reported.
Former eInclusion director Nicholas Yang Wai-hung, executive vice-president of Polytechnic University who was in the lead to be the next information technology minister, said via a university spokesman that it was not appropriate for him to comment on the news as he had resigned all his posts at eInclusion on June 30.
In a statement yesterday, iProA denied allegations of wrongdoing.
'We regret the untrue reports by some media. The reports could mislead the public and cause harm to our reputation,' it said.
The ICAC report said there was a lack of proper screening of applicants under the internet-learning project, and many users stopped paying instalments after ordering computers through the programme.
An ICAC spokesman confirmed the publication of an assignment report, but declined to comment. Meanwhile, eInclusion director Wong Kam-fai, a professor at Chinese University's engineering department, also said the fresh allegations were 'wrong and exaggerated'.
He also denied that the ICAC was probing him and Yang.