Appeal by public housing resident against her conviction for false statement offences dismissed by court

Hong Kong (HKSAR) -      A spokesman for the Housing Department (HD) today (March 9) said that the HD always spares no effort in combating abuses of public housing. Another public rental housing (PRH) resident was recently convicted on this count.

     A PRH resident, who did not declare that she possessed or held a landed property under a tenancy in common and the property's net value on Asset Declaration Forms, was convicted of the offences of neglecting to furnish specified particulars and making false statement knowingly. 

     In this case, the PRH resident submitted to the HD in mid-2015 an Asset Declaration Form on which she did not declare any net asset value of any landed property. At the end of 2015, in another Asset Declaration Form, she still did not declare to have ownership of any landed property and the property's net value.

Subsequent investigation revealed that she had concealed her ownership of a landed property which she held as a tenant in common with another person and the property's net value during the assessment period. Having considered the outstanding mortgage loan amount and the percentage of the share of ownership, the concealed asset value was estimated to worth around $1.4 million. Eventually, the PRH resident was prosecuted for neglecting to furnish information specified in the declaration form and making a false statement knowingly, contrary to Section 27(a) and Section 26(1)(a) respectively of the Housing Ordinance. 

     A trial was heard in Eastern Magistrates' Courts in November 2016. The PRH resident was convicted and ordered to pay fines of $4,000 and $8,000 respectively. Subsequently, the resident lodged an appeal against the conviction and the appeal was dismissed by the High Court in December last year.

She then filed an application to the High Court for a certificate to appeal to the Court of Final Appeal, which was also dismissed at the end of February.

     The spokesman reminded all PRH households that they should complete the income and asset declaration forms truthfully because the particulars furnished thereunder would form the basis for the assessment of rent and may affect the household's status for continuing the renting of the existing PRH flat. Therefore, before making the declarations, households should read the content and completion guidelines of the income and asset declaration form carefully and compute their income and assets in accordance with the methods specified. Otherwise, they may be prosecuted for making false statement knowingly, contrary to Section 26(1)(a) of the Housing Ordinance. If convicted, the maximum penalty is a $50,000 fine and imprisonment for six months.

They may also be prosecuted for neglecting to furnish information as specified in a declaration form, contrary to Section 27(a) of the Housing Ordinance. If convicted, the maximum penalty is a $25,000 fine and imprisonment for three months. Notwithstanding the above, the HD will take action to recover the undercharged rent incurred due to the inaccurate information.

Published on: 2018-03-09

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