Chinese-language newspaper Sing Pao was fined HK$26,000 yesterday for failing to pay HK$320,000 in wages and annual leave pay to its former chief executive Lin Ning more than a year after he was sacked. Eastern Court magistrate William Ng Sing-wai said there was 'a need to raise the fine to an appropriate level to reflect the seriousness of such offences'. Mr Lin, whose contract was terminated in April 2004, said he was not paid for his work between August and October that year, although the paper's board of directors had given him six months' notice in March. Mr Ng agreed that current management, which took over in April last year, should shoulder a discounted responsibility because the five charges were laid in March the same year when the newspaper was under a different board of directors. But the magistrate said the fines, ranging from HK$2,000 to HK$7,000 for each charge, were not heavy and therefore did not reduce the total. The current management has repaid the disputed wages, but they were accused of failing to do so by the due date. It earlier pleaded guilty to one charge, over HK$8,900 in annual leave pay, but denied four others. Sing Pao had earlier argued there was no agreement to give the sacked executive six months' notice and there was no document to prove it. Mr Ng said the law did not require company decisions to become legitimate only if they are made in a board meeting. He also ruled that such an arrangement was made, but the board of directors refused to honour the undertaking. The newspaper was convicted in January for a similar charge, in which it delayed wages payment of HK$81,000 to three employees from February to June last year. The Department of Justice has lodged an appeal to review the sentence and the trial is scheduled to be heard in November.