Hong Kong police officer charged with five counts of bribery by graft watchdog

Clifford Lo

A Hong Kong policewoman has been charged for allegedly seeking discounts on designer clothing and accepting earrings at a discounted price from a jewellery company employee involved in a suspected fraud case.

The corruption watchdog charged constable Lee Sin-wa, 29, with four counts of a public servant soliciting an advantage and one count of a public servant accepting an advantage. She will appear in West Kowloon Court on Thursday.

Co-defendants Leung Wei-ka, 45, previously a department manager of a fashion company, and Zhuang Aolin Vivone, 31, who worked as a clerk at a jewellery company, each face one count of offering an advantage to a public servant, according to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). Leung was allowed to buy certain products at a staff discount, while Zhuang was able to source jewellery below market prices, the watchdog claimed.

The charges against the officer came a week after police chief Chris Tang Ping-keung announced a new Integrity Audit Office to supervise staff conduct following the arrest of 18 officers in three weeks. Nine arrests were made on May 8 in connection with operations against Sham Shui Po street sleepers. Some officers allegedly lied about finding drugs on a suspect.

Police Commissioner Chris Tang announced a new Integrity Audit Office after 18 officers were arrested over three weeks. Photo: Felix Wong

Another four officers were arrested on May 7-8 over a missing haul of crystal meth valued at HK$12 million (US$I. 5 million). Police sources said it was believed the drugs were taken from the scene of a recent record seizure.

According to the ICAC, Lee was a detective constable attached to the Yau Tsim criminal investigation unit responsible for criminal investigation. She was assigned to a suspected fraud case reported by Leung, Zhuang and another complainant, involving a businesswoman and the trading of luxury goods.

“Two charges against Lee allege that on September 20, 2017, and January 15, 2018, Lee, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, solicited from the aforesaid businesswoman the procurement of handbags of two other fashion brands at discounted prices as an inducement to or reward for Lee’s being or remaining favourably disposed to the businesswoman in the investigation in the police case,” the commission said.

The case will be heard at West Kowloon Court. Photo: Felix Wong

“Another charge against Lee alleges that on January 8, 2018, Lee, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, solicited from the aforesaid complainant in the police case the procurement of products from a children’s apparel brand at discounted price as an inducement to or reward for Lee’s conducting investigation in the police case.”

Both the businesswoman and the complainant declined the offer, according to the ICAC.

The fourth charge alleges that on November 22, 2017, Lee sought a pair of trainers from Leung at a discounted price as an inducement to or reward for Lee’s conduct in the investigation. Leung allegedly offered the trainers, worth HK$2,450 (US$316) at the lower price, on December 13 the same year.

The ICAC claims Zhuang offered Lee the earrings at a below-market price as an inducement to or reward in connection with Lee’s investigation.

The remaining charge against Lee alleges she bought the earrings at HK$4,500, which was 20 per cent to 30 per cent lower than the market price.

The three defendants have been released on ICAC bail, pending their court appearance on Thursday.

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