Hong Kong police have arrested 19 people who allegedly conspired to defraud the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority (MPFA) with bogus claims.
The 15 men and four women, aged 22 to 56, were arrested on Tuesday, Ming Pao Daily reports, citing Berlin Ho, chief inspector of the Commercial Crime Bureau.
They included 12 people who worked for two financial consultancy companies and seven of their clients.
All were detained for making fraudulent withdrawals from the government-run pension fund. More arrests are expected.
MPFA regulations allow participants to withdraw their contributions when they reach 65.
However, they or their beneficiaries can make an early withdrawal due to early retirement, permanent departure from Hong Kong, total incapacity, terminal illness, death and when their account has a small balance.
Ho said the consultants randomly called people and offered to help them wind up their MPF accounts.
They then conspired to create false statements including overseas addresses and a declaration that the account holder was leaving Hong Kong for good.
About 60 MPF participants have fraudulently made early withdrawals in the past 12 months involving more than HK$7 million (US$903,039), Ho said.
The amount ranged from HK$4,000 to HK$390,000, with the consultants taking up to 30 percent of the proceeds.
Barrister Albert Luk said suspects in a conspiracy to defraud could face up to 14 years imprisonment if convicted.
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