A local property developer was fined HK$200,000 by a Hong Kong court after admitting to a string of malpractices that included an omission in its sales brochures about the presence of public toilets and a power plant near the housing development. The case marked the first successful prosecution under the Residential Properties (First-hand Sales) Ordinance , which came into effect more than three years ago. After three years, Hong Kong home sales watchdog takes its first legal action against a developer Oriental Style Limited, a subsidiary of Lai Sun Development, pleaded guilty to 13 summons charges before principal magistrate Ernest Lin Kam-hung at Kwun Tong Court. But the developer also denied six other charges, which alleged it had published newspaper advertisements containing false or misleading information stating that its units would be sold at a discount of 10 per cent. Hong Kong housing sales law misses the mark The property – called Ocean One – housed 124 residential units in Yau Tong following its completion in 2013 at a development cost of HK$730 million, according to its annual report. The Sales of First-hand Residential Properties Authority, which implements the ordinance, pressed 19 charges against the developer after screening its sales brochure as well as advertisements published from May 2013 to May 2014 in four local Chinese-language newspapers. The company’s defence lawyer asked for a lenient sentence for his client, and said in mitigation that the offences admitted to were mistakes made in the early months following the law’s enactment in April 2013 and that they were corrected as soon as the company was informed. They included setting forth in the sales brochure information not authorised by law, failing to set out information as required by law – such as the presence of public toilets and power plants within 250 metres of the development – and failing to use the specified font size in advertisements. Why would you commit these kinds of mistakes? Principal magistrate Ernest Lin Kam-hung Five other offences concerned failing to state correctly in advertisements, the firm of the authorised person for the development. Oriental Style was found to have misprinted that company’s name. The magistrate questioned how such mistakes were possible when the company has a sizeable team of professionals working on the luxury property development. “For some people, buying a property is about the biggest transaction of their lives,” Lin said. “Why would you commit these kinds of mistakes?” Under the ordinance, the guilty offences carried maximum fines of HK$100,000 to HK$500,000. The offences denied by the company by the company, meanwhile, carry a maximum jail term of three years and HK$1 million in fines. The case will return for a pre-trial review on August 30, for parties to clarify what issues were disputed and to set trial dates for the remaining six charges.