The Chinese University of Hong Kong Student Union has asked the school administration to form an independent team to investigate a financial scandal in its Shenzhen Research Institute (SZRI).
The case revolves around an alleged embezzlement by several employees of the institute, which the SZRI administration purportedly tried to cover up after the workers threatened to expose tax evasion at the institute, Apple Daily reported on Friday.
The university denied the report and said its internal controls were working well.
Wong Ching-fung, president of the student union, said the case, if confirmed, would be a serious blow to the integrity and reputation of the entire institution, revealing improper management at SZRI as well as weak supervision by the university.
The scandal emerged after a recent posting on Facebook account CUHK Secrets, which claimed that three SZRI employees who were found embezzling school funds threatened to expose the institute for not paying taxes for its programs should the CUHK administration report them to the police.
The university yielded to the threat, the report said, and covered up the embezzlement of SZRI funds worth tens of thousands of Hong Kong dollars.
The newspaper quoted unnamed CUHK officials as saying that Professor Benjamin Wah Wan-sang, provost of CUHK and acting dean of SZRI, admitted the case to the CUHK board last week and the school decided not to go to the police after consulting with legal experts.
Wong said Wah should assume responsibility for the scandal.
Meanwhile, CUHK denied the veracity of the Facebook posting, noting that the SZRI discovered the embezzlement by three administrative employees in end-2013 and fired them immediately as well as reported the case to the mainland labor department.
Replying to an inquiry by Apple Daily, CUHK board chairman Vincent Cheng said the university’s internal controls are “okay”, adding that individual problems cannot be avoided as the school is so big but that existing mechanisms will be put into action if any violation is found.
“There is no difference in handling such cases between the mainland and Hong Kong,” Cheng was quoted as saying.
Founded in March 2009 and wholly owned by the university, SZRI provides a base for staff members to conduct research, development, training and technology transfer, the report said.
– Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org