HongKong

Hong Kong customs arrests director of scandal-hit drug rehabilitation centre


Customs officers have arrested a director of a scandal-hit drug rehabilitation centre in Hong Kong, after the now-closed institution allegedly failed to refund students as promised.

The Post learned the person arrested on Tuesday was Reverend Siu Yu-fat, vice-chairman of the board of the Christian Zheng Sheng Association, which operates Christian Zheng Sheng College, a drug rehabilitation centre in Ha Keng on Lantau Island.

The college suspended operations on Sunday, after its bank accounts had been frozen by police since January.

Customs said the director, 66, was arrested on suspicion of having applied for a false trade description for the service supplied, and of engaging in unfair trade practices involving a misleading omission, in contravention of the Trade Description Ordinance.

“Customs earlier received information alleging that a staff member of a rehabilitation institution falsely claimed to a customer [saying] the prepaid book fees for a two-year training course could be refunded,” it said. “However, the institution did not refund the fees to the customer in the end.”

It added the staff member claimed the accommodation deposit paid by the customer would be refunded after his children completed the course.

But it was only after the institution ceased to provide the training course that the staff member informed the customer the deposit would not be refunded even if the course was discontinued.

The college suspended operations on Sunday. Its bank accounts had been frozen by police since January. Pictured is an alumnus of the college, revisiting the site. Photo: Elson Li

Customs officials estimated the amount involved was approximately HK$7,495 (US$960), while the accommodation deposits amounted to about HK$8,000.

Siu has been released on bail pending further investigation.

He said to the Post the issue was relatively minor and that law enforcement agents did not fully understand the situation. He said the issue was related to directors who were in charge before he joined the board in April this year.

Siu also claimed that the previous directors had reached an agreement regarding how to handle refund issues.

Customs said it would not rule out the possibility of making more arrests.

Under the Trade Description Ordinance, offenders face a maximum penalty of a fine of HK$500,000 and imprisonment of five years.

In January, police arrested four former directors and three others in relation to allegations of fraud and embezzlement of HK$50 million in donations to fund the college in 2020.

The wanted trio are founder Jacob Lam Hay-sing, principal Alman Chan Siu-cheuk and Chan Yau-chi, who police have accused of transferring funds from the association’s bank accounts to their personal accounts. All of them are out of Hong Kong.



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