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It was the first time that ICAC and SFC launched a joint operation in investigating a suspected corruption case involving two executive directors of a Hong Kong financial services firm. The executives were suspected of using the company to solicit an advantage of about HK$47million.
Under s.9(1) of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, it is an offence for any agent to, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, solicit an advantage. “Section 9 is the only offence in the POBO dedicated solely to corruption in the private sector but it is limited in its scope by the requirement that there exists a principal/agent relationship and that the principal’s interests are prejudiced or at risk of being prejudiced by the secret actions either of his corrupt agent or by a person with whom he is having dealings who seeks to corrupt his agent.” The focus of the offence is on conduct, which undermines the integrity of the agent in his relationship with his principal. But this corrupting offence is only present when the principal is unaware of what is taking place. The penalty for section 9(1) offence is, on conviction on indictment, a fine of HK$500,000 and imprisonment for 7 years.
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