Nine former staff of a Food and Environmental Hygiene Department cleaning contractor were found guilty yesterday of cheating the department out of more than HK$1.43 million by underpaying staff and subcontracting services. A 10th defendant was acquitted after a 177-day trial in the District Court. The 10 had pleaded not guilty to a total of 18 counts of conspiring to defraud the department while providing pest-control services between December 2004 and March 2006. Barry Chan Kam-man, 47, Alexon Kot Ka-kui, 57, Po Chau-yin, 45, Chung Fuk, 40, Ho Ka-wo, 50, Po Ka-chun, 31, Kui Wai-chung, 43, Cheung Pui-ying, 50, and Lau Ka-wai, 37, were convicted. Chau Chun-hong, 42, was acquitted of one count of conspiracy to defraud. The court heard that at the time of the scam Chan was general manager of the company, Centuryan Services Ltd, and Kot was contract manager, while the remaining eight were foremen. Prosecutor Wong Po-wing told the court during the trial that the defendants had failed to disclose the true wages of their foremen and workers. In April 2005, Centuryan Services won contracts for rodent and pest control in 11 of the city's 19 districts. Under the contracts, Centuryan Services was to hire foremen at a salary of HK$7,850 and workers at a salary of HK$7,382 and should not subcontract the work. But Centuryan Services did subcontract out work and demanded that its employees return about HK$1,000 a month on pretexts such as advance payment of MPF contributions and equipment purchases, the court heard. The case came to light after complaints to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Convicting the nine, Judge Mary Yuen Lai-wah said she found the two main prosecution witnesses - including one testifying under immunity - were credible. She adjourned sentencing to September 2, pending background and medical reports.