Two Hong Kong district councillors arrested over election expenses

Published (HKT): 2020.11.23 06:14

Hong Kong police arrested two district councillors and another man on Sunday for allegedly trying to defraud the government with their election expenses. One of the suspects was also accused of violating a law on imitation firearms.

Yuen Long district councillor Henry Wong and Kowloon City district councillor Timothy Lee were arrested on Sunday morning. Police also apprehended Jason Chan, the director of creative company U Made This.

Wong and Lee, who teamed up to run for the Legislative Council earlier this year, reported expenses of HK$4.89 million (US$631,000) — the highest sum among all candidates. The government promised to reimburse candidates for their spending after announcing in July that it would delay the election over public health concerns.

The duo also claimed to have received a HK$4.5 million donation from U Made This, with HK$960,000 attributed to election advertisements on social media and HK$920,000 for speechwriting, image design, makeup and photography.

Police superintendent Yip Wing-lam said that officers from the commercial crime bureau arrested three men, aged between 26 and 29, on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud.

“Police suspected they forged documents, including invoices and receipts, to falsify their electoral expenses and defraud the government for its reimbursement,” Yip said.

At the home of one suspect, officers also found a collection of imitation firearms, including eight rifles, 17 pistols, imitation ammunition and a wooden bow. Under the Firearms and Ammunition Ordinance, anyone found in possession of an imitation firearm can be jailed for up to two years.

Asked how police determined that Wong and Lee exaggerated their expenses, Yip told reporters that the amount was “very large and exceeding estimates” but did not provide specifics. The investigation was ongoing and more arrests may be made, Yip added.

Police arrested Lee at 6 a.m. and later took him to his To Kwa Wan office to conduct a search, according to a Facebook post by his assistant. The assistant accused the police of threatening to criminalize speech, as officers took photos of political slogans during their search.

U Made This is a subsidiary of GLOs, which was founded by scholar Simon Shen. Shen, however, distanced himself from the creative company last month, saying that he had no role in its operation and did not know about its donations.

U Made This had hired a new director to replace Chan, and the company will wind down after its projects are completed, Shen added.

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