Ex-govt official gets 9-months jail for misconduct in office

September 13, 2019 16:47
Wilson Fung (inset) was handed a jail term as his conduct was deemed to have fallen short of the standards required of civil servants. Photo: HKEJ

A former senior government official was on Thursday sentenced to nine months in jail for misconduct in public office after he was found guilty of accepting money from a businesswoman in a case that involved the issue of conflict of interest.

Handing the punishment to Wilson Fung Wing-yip, who served as deputy secretary at the Economic Development and Labour Bureau between 2003 and 2006, District Court Judge Douglas Yau Tak-hong revealed that in considering the matter, a judgment delivered in a misconduct case pertaining to former Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen served as a reference, although Tsang’s conviction eventually ended up being quashed by the Court of Final Appeal.

Yau, who convicted Fung for misconduct in public office last month, said while Fung’s rank in the government was far lower than Tsang’s, the fact Fung still assumed an important post means the court has to give to him a sentence with a deterrent effect.

The judge pointed out that Fung’s misconduct had lasted as long as two years, which was not a short time, and his behavior during the period breached the integrity required of civil servants and dented their reputation and also hurt people’s confidence in the government officials.

Fung was accused of having accepted HK$510,000 in September 2004 from Macau businesswoman Cheyenne Chan Ung-iok, with whom Fung had had an extramarital affair, and acting in a manner favorable to Chan’s companies over a three-year period between 2004 and 2006.

He was charged by the Independent Commission Against Corruption in 2018 when he was executive director of corporate development at the Airport Authority.

The amount, according to the prosecution, was paid as part of a deposit on a luxury flat in Mid-Levels bought by Fung and his wife Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee, who currently heads the government’s Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office.

Reiterating that Fung was not convicted for his extramarital affair with Chan, Yau noted that Fung’s statements during the trial were ruled as lies, which reflects his intention to conceal the fact and avoid culpability.

While insisting that Fung had to take responsibility for his behavior, Yau decided to reduce three months to the starting point of the jail time, which should be 12 months, for the offense, on the ground that Fung had made quite significant contributions to society.

As for Chan, a sister-in-law of Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho Hung-sun, she was in August acquitted of the charge of offering an advantage to a public servant.

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