Wednesday, June 29, 2011 Academic accused of misconduct


Academic accused of misconduct

Graft-buster charges former HKU head of surgery over alleged misuse of funds to pay a domestic helper, an embezzlement cover-up and false travel claims

A former head of surgery at the University of Hong Kong medical faculty has been charged with misconduct by the ICAC for misusing the university's funds to hire a domestic helper.

Professor John Wong (pictured), 70, head of the surgery department from 1982 to 2008, was also accused of covering up a subordinate's embezzlement so she could escape disciplinary action and pocket full payments from the staff provident fund when she resigned. Another charge alleges Wong cheated on overseas travel expenses through false accounting in a firm he set up.

Wong will appear in Eastern Court tomorrow to face two charges of misconduct in public office and two of false accounting, pending transfer to the District Court, a spokesman for the Independent Commission Against Corruption said.

Wong was the head of surgery when the alleged offences took place. The department set up the Skills Development Centre in 1995, with a donation from the Jockey Club, to provide medical training to all surgical specialties, medical students, interns, nurses and doctors. The centre also received public donations and Hospital Authority sponsorship. One of the misconduct charges alleges Wong authorised the use of more than HK$730,000 from the centre's bank account to pay a domestic helper - who also worked as a driver - between January 29, 2002 and January 30, 2007.

Another misconduct charge alleges Wong failed to report to the university that his subordinate had stolen more than HK$2.6 million from the centre's bank account. He then allegedly loaned money to the female subordinate to replenish the bank account and cover up the theft. The commission said he had also allowed her to resign without being investigated or disciplined by the university so that she could receive full payments from the staff provident fund worth more than HK$690,000.

The other two charges allege Wong falsified entries in the director's report and accounts of Unisurgical Limited - a company he set up in 2005 and of which he was sole shareholder and effectively director. The charges relate to the director's report and accounts for the year ending March 2006, and March 2007, in which more than HK$690,000 and HK$74,000, respectively, in overseas travel expenses were claimed.

The spokesman said the case had arisen from a corruption complaint, and the university had given full assistance to the investigation.

Wong has been released on ICAC bail pending his court appearance tomorrow.

In September 2009, the former dean of the medical faculty, Lam Siu-kum, was sentenced to more than two years in prison for inducing patients to make donations and payments of almost HK$4 million to his company.

The university reviewed financial transactions at its medical faculty after Lam's case came to light.

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