Five former Hong Kong footballers charged with match-fixing as city graft-buster probes irregularities in local league reserve matches
City’s graft-buster accuses Pegasus teammates of trying to throw three reserve league soccer games
Five former players of a Hong Kong soccer club were charged by the ICAC on Wednesday with offering and accepting bribes totalling HK$60,000 while trying to fix three reserve league matches.
They included Lee Wai-lim, 36, winner of the Footballer of the Year award in 2009 when he played for Tai Po.
The others were Kwok Kin-pong, 30, Michael Cheng Lai-hin, 31, Chan Pak-hang, 24, and Lee Ka-ho, 24, who all played for Premier League side Pegasus. They face a total of seven charges.
The men were arrested by the Independent Commission Against Corruption last October in an operation codenamed “Flower Field” and were suspended by the club shortly afterwards.
Kwok and Cheng face a joint charge of conspiracy to defraud, while the others face similar charges.
Cheng and Chan also each face one charge of offering an advantage to an agent, while Lee Wai-lim and Lee Ka-ho each face one charge of accepting an advantage.
The defendants will appear in West Kowloon Court on Friday for transfer of the case to the District Court for plea.
The charges relate to the 2015/2016 season when nine teams, including Pegasus, competed in the Hong Kong Premier League. Each side was also required to maintain a team in the Reserve Division League.
At the time, Kwok, Cheng, Chan, Lee Wai-lim and Lee Ka-ho were registered with Pegasus, while Lee Wai-lim was a Pegasus reserve team coach.
The ICAC alleges that between February 24 and 29, 2016, Kwok and Cheng conspired together and with other unknown people to defraud Pegasus and the Hong Kong Football Association by dishonestly contriving or attempting to contrive the result of an RDL game between Pegasus and Yuen Long on February 24, 2016.
Another charge alleges that on February 29, 2016, Cheng offered HK$10,000 to a then football player of Pegasus as a reward for fixing the outcome of that match.
A third charge alleges that between March 23 and 31, 2016, Cheng, Lee Wai-lim, Chan and Lee Ka-ho conspired together and with a then football player of Biu Chun Rangers to defraud Pegasus and the HKFA by trying to contrive the result of a reserve game between Pegasus and Biu Chun Rangers on March 23.
A fourth charge alleges that on March 27, Chan offered HK$10,000 to a Pegasus player to contrive the result of that match. Two other charges allege that between March 23 and 31, Lee Wai-lim and Lee Ka-ho each accepted HK$20,000 from Cheng for the same purpose.
The remaining charge alleges that between April 13 and May 13, 2016, Cheng, Lee Wai-lim and Chan conspired together and with the Biu Chun Rangers player to defraud Pegasus and the HKFA by dishonestly contriving or attempting to contrive the result of a third RDL match between Pegasus and Biu Chun Rangers on April 13.
Lee Wai-lim played 30 times for Hong Kong as an attacking player, while Kwok, a defender, represented the city on 35 occasions. Cheng played 10 times.
The HKFA and Pegaus said they had given their full assistance to graft-busters during the investigation. The defendants were released on ICAC bail pending their court appearance on Friday.