Boss of Bible seminary was charged too late The head of a Bible seminary who was due to be sentenced yesterday after he admitted lying to claim more than HK$700,000 in Mandatory Provident Fund contributions was given a temporary reprieve when it was revealed that he had been charged with the offence too late. Gaspard Lam Kam-to, 60, president of Bethel Bible Seminary, pleaded guilty in Eastern Court on September 25 to one count of making a false or misleading statement under the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance. The maximum penalty for such an offence is a fine and 12 months' imprisonment. He was due to be sentenced yesterday after a community service order report had been obtained. But the prosecutor asked Principal Magistrate Garry Tallentire for an adjournment to seek legal advice. The magistrate heard that the law stated a charge had to be laid within six months, but the offences were committed on May 4, 2006. The case was adjourned to November 6 and Lam was released on bail. A judiciary spokeswoman said the error might have arisen with the police officer who first laid the charge. She said the officer did not follow the normal procedure and seek legal advice from the judiciary before laying the charge. A police spokesman said their inquiries showed there was enough evidence against Lam and the case had been pursued in the belief the charge was not 'time barred'. He could not comment further as the case had been adjourned and was being examined by the police and the Department of Justice. A veteran barrister said such incidents sometimes happened in a magistrate's court. It could lead to dismissal of the charge but another possibility was that after legal advice an alternative charge would be laid. The court earlier heard that Lam had worked at the Bethel Bible Seminary since 1985 and was currently its president. Between May 4 and 31, 2006, he had requested AXA China Region Trustees Limited to withdraw the voluntary portion of his Mandatory Provident Fund contributions. He submitted a resignation document effective from March 31 that year, and on June 27, AXA issued him a cheque for HK$751,051. But the court heard that on April 1, 2006, Lam had switched to an MPF plan through AIA. The case was disclosed to the seminary by its MPF agent late last year.