A former Hong Kong police officer has been jailed for nearly two years for unlawfully borrowing HK$330,000 (US$42,132) from junior colleagues and asking one of them to erase evidence during an investigation by the city’s anti-corruption watchdog.
Ex-station sergeant Wong Chi-ming, 54, had also secured early payment of his pension and a loan from the force’s credit union by concealing outstanding debts that ran up to HK$1.4 million, West Kowloon Court heard on Tuesday.
Deputy Judge Ada Yim Shun-yee said the police veteran should have known not to sacrifice his integrity under any circumstances.
“The defendant served the force for more than 30 years. He should have known the importance of integrity and the consequences of committing a crime,” she said.
The disgraced officer had also committed a “very serious” offence by attempting to impede the investigation against him, Yim added.
Wong pleaded guilty to 11 charges, comprising five counts of accepting an advantage by a prescribed officer, three of soliciting an advantage, and one each of deception, fraud and perverting the course of justice.
The Prevention of Bribery Ordinance bars civil servants from obtaining unauthorised loans.
A 2010 chief executive directive stipulates a civil servant can only borrow up to HK$3,000 from close personal friends, and up to half the amount from any other person. Any such loan must be repaid within 30 days.
The court heard the ex-officer became heavily indebted after a failed investment in the stock market.
On seven occasions between May 2020 and April 2021, he asked for loans totalling HK$439,200 from constables Ng Yun-sum and Tse Wan-tin, his subordinates in a police patrol subunit of the Kwai Chung division.
Ng and Tse agreed to lend the respective sums of HK$310,000 and HK$20,000.
The former sergeant also approached his then supervisor, Inspector Li Jinpeng, for a HK$80,000 loan, but was refused.
An inquiry by the Independent Commission Against Corruption revealed Wong had made false declarations about his financial status when he applied for early retirement and re-employment in December 2018.
The accused received HK$2.56 million for his pension five years before his retirement age by hiding the fact that he had owed a total of HK$1.4 million to moneylenders.
In September 2020, Wong secured a HK$80,100 loan from the Police Credit Union after lying he was not in debt.
After being interviewed by the commission in April 2021, Wong asked Ng to delete all messages between them to keep their monetary dealings under wraps.
That request was recorded on a dash cam inside the former sergeant’s car, which was later seized as evidence in his prosecution.
Wong was arrested in June 2021 and sacked a year later. He worked as a taxi driver before his sentence.
Defence lawyers said the accused had lost everything he had earned over the years and put his family under immense pressure.
Wong’s financial problems also led to uncertainties for his daughter’s academic aspirations to pursue a degree in dentistry, the court heard.
Deputy Judge Yim expressed concerns about Wong’s ability to make repayments, noting he still owed HK$265,000 to Ng on the day of sentencing.
The former officer’s promise to fully repay his former colleague in three years after his release from prison was “not very practical” either, Yim added.
She jailed Wong for 22 months after shaving 14 months from a starting point of three years, taking into account the defendant’s guilty plea, his loss of his job and pension and his fall from grace.
The court also ordered a nominal restitution to the government of HK$5 in light of his financial difficulties.