Tse Sui-luen, founder of the listed Tse Sui Luen Jewellery (TSL) empire, and four others went on trial yesterday over corruption and fraud charges involving travel agents who took tour groups to the company's showrooms. The court heard the charges involved HK$170 million. Tse Sui-luen, 70, his son Tommy Tse Tat-fung, 38, finance director Chung Yuen-ling, 45, deputy chairman and chief executive Peter Gerardus Van Weerdenburg, 47, and business promotions general manager Wong Ting-fong, 59, pleaded not guilty to a total of 14 charges. They all face charges of offering an advantage to agents and conspiracy to commit false accounting. Tse Sui-luen, Tommy Tse, Chung and Wong also face charges of conspiracy to steal. Tommy Tse, Van Weerdenburg and Wong face charges of conspiracy to defraud. The District Court was told the defendants had allegedly offered commissions that were structured to help agents avoid paying income tax on them. They were also accused of making false representations of commission payments. Prosecutor Peter Duncan SC said TSL had offered commissions to travel agents based on the number of tourists they brought in, together with the amount of purchases made in their showrooms. He said that as some recipients had wanted to conceal the commissions to avoid tax, TSL had offered them 'secret commissions'. Three TSL employees - who would testify with immunity - had come up with a tax-avoidance scheme. The commissions had been paid, he said, through offshore companies, or been paid as entertainment or promotional expenses. Mr Duncan said Tse Sui-luen and Tommy Tse also conspired with others to steal HK$500,000 and HK$2,714,900, respectively, from the company for their own use. But Tommy Tse had eventually returned HK$1,821,954 to TSL in 2003. The hearing is set to continue tomorrow.