Public housing residents and HOS applicant convicted by court for false statement
It is noted that recently two cases involving three PRH residents who understated the employment income and did not declare the landed property ownership to the HD were convicted for making false statements knowingly or neglecting to furnish information specified in declaration forms. Furthermore, in another case, an HOS applicant was sentenced to a community service order as he made a statement on the application form which he knew to be false or misleading as to a material particular by not declaring his land ownership and related net asset value to the HD.
In the first case, two PRH residents at Leung King Estate in Tuen Mun did not include the irregular income (i.e. the bonus and allowance earned in the reporting period) as part of their average monthly incomes when filling in the 2015 Income Declaration Form and another declaration form respectively. After investigation, one resident was prosecuted for making a false statement knowingly, contrary to Section 26(1)(a) of the Housing Ordinance. The other resident was prosecuted for neglecting to furnish information specified in the declaration form, contrary to Section 27(a) of the Housing Ordinance. The two defendants were convicted and ordered to pay fines of $20,000 and $12,000 at the Tuen Mun Magistrates' Courts on February 2, 2017.
In the second case, a PRH resident at Yiu Tung Estate in Shau Kei Wan did not declare her residential property ownership with another person (tenancy-in-common) and its net asset value on the 2015 Asset Declaration Form. Subsequently, under the witness of an investigation officer, she still failed to declare her property ownership and related net asset value on another asset declaration form. Finally, the investigation result revealed that the concealed asset value of the said 50 per cent property ownership during the declaration period was around $1.4 million. The resident was prosecuted for neglecting to furnish information specified in the declaration form and also making a false statement knowingly during the investigation interview, contrary to Section 27(a) and Section 26(1)(a) of the Housing Ordinance respectively. After two days' trial, the defendant was convicted at the Eastern Magistrates' Courts on February 23, 2017 and ordered to pay a total fine of $12,000 for two summonses laid.
In the third case, a citizen who applied for the purchase of a flat under the HOS via White Form in 2015 declared that he had no land or related net asset value on the application form. However, the HD's HOS Sales Unit (HOSSU) found in assessment that he actually held 40 pieces of land during the application stage for which the total net value was in the amount of $10 million. He was later prosecuted by the HD for making a statement which he knew to be false or misleading as to a material particular, contrary to Section 26(2) of the Housing Ordinance. The defendant was convicted at the Kwun Tong Magistrates' Courts on February 23, 2017. The magistrate considered a fine punishment could not reflect the gravity of the offence. After making reference to the probation report on March 9, 2017, the defendant was sentenced to a community service order of 160 hours. Since the estate in which the HOS flat is located was incomplete, the HOSSU rescinded the Agreement for Sale and Purchase previously signed with the defendant and forfeited the deposit amounting to around $200,000 paid by him in accordance with the related clause therein.
Pursuant to the prevailing policy of the HD, tenants who have been living in PRH for 10 years or more are required to declare their household income in a biennial cycle. Those with a household income exceeding the corresponding Subsidy Income Limits are required to pay 1.5 times or double net rent plus rates as appropriate. Tenants paying double net rent plus rates have to declare assets at the next cycle's declaration. Those who opt not to declare, or whose total household asset value exceeds the prescribed Net Assets Limits, are required to vacate their PRH flats.
The spokesman said that households should complete the income and asset declaration forms accurately, which forms the foundation for the assessment of rent. 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 contravene Section 26(1)(a) of the Housing Ordinance (if convicted, the maximum penalty is a $50,000 fine and imprisonment for six months) or 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.
In addition, the spokesman reminded all HOS applicants of the legislative requirements whereas if they make statements which they know to be false or misleading as to a material particular, contrary to Section 26(2) of the Housing Ordinance, they shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of $500,000 and to imprisonment for one year. If they have already purchased and completed the assignment of the HOS flats, pursuant to s.26B of the Housing Ordinance, the court may order the purchasers to forfeit to the Housing Authority a sum equivalent to the difference between the original purchase price of the flat and the market value at the date of the order.
Ends/Thursday, March 9, 2017
Issued at HKT 21:13
Issued at HKT 21:13