Prison for staff who embezzled firm's millions

A FINANCIAL analyst and two accountants who stole almost $25 million from Duty Free Shoppers International (HK) between July 1987 and April 1989 were yesterday sent to prison by the High Court.

Deputy Judge Gould sentenced Wong Kwok-pong to four years and three months' jail, and Ho Shun-kau and Hung Ping-kong each to 31/2 years.

Although the men had admitted theft charges totalling $6 million, the full extent of their activities involved $24.8 million, the judge said.

He accepted the men had given financial help to others but said it was always easy to be generous with someone else's money.

Wong had hatched the scheme and it was implemented largely by Ho and Hung, Deputy Judge Gould said. It appeared the remorse shown by Ho and Hung was more genuine than that shown by Wong.

Wong, 44, a financial analyst, Ho, 38, and Hung, 44, both accountants, had each admitted 10 counts of theft and the court was asked to consider 38 other similar offences.


Senior Crown Counsel Mr Anthony Schapel told the court all three men worked at the Chinachem Plaza branch of Duty Free Shoppers.

Wong set up a firm in the name of General Merchandise International Company (GMI) - the same name as one of his employer's regular suppliers - but he later discontinued the business registration.

In each theft, cheques were made payable to GMI and the thefts were disguised in Duty Free Shoppers' books by fictitious entries.

After the cheques were drawn, Wong deposited them into the GMI account that he controlled. Ho and Hung each got $4.95 million.


In mitigation, their counsel Mr Edward Mumford, QC, said they had offered to repay $17.2 million. He said yesterday an agreement on repayment had been reached.

The three had been of previous good character and were remorseful, he said.