LC Paper No. CB(1) 1811/98-99(01)
Information Note for the LegCo Panel on Public Service
The Commissioner of Inland Revenue
The purpose of this information note is to update members on the current position of the case concerning Mr WONG Ho-sang.
2. Following media reports alleging that Mr Wong Ho-sang, the Commissioner of Inland Revenue, could have been involved in serious conflict of interest situations as his wife is running a company J. Enterprise Secretarial and Taxation Limited ("JEST") providing, amongst other services, tax consultation and advice service, the Chief Executive requested the Director of Audit to examine the tax returns or submissions made or represented by JEST to see :
Director of Audit's Report
- whether any of them has been dealt with personally by Mr Wong in the period since 24 April 1996; and
- whether the relevant Ordinances and internal directions and instructions have been duly observed.
3. The Director of Audit's report (Annex A) reveals that Mr Wong has personally dealt with 7 cases submitted by JEST. However, the Director of Audit cannot find evidence in respect of the completed cases which suggests that the relevant Ordinances have not been duly observed or that the due collection of public moneys has been put at risk.
4. It is established that Mr Wong has failed to comply with IRD's departmental circulars which state that officers should avoid dealing with files which their spouses have been connected with the preparation of the returns in a professional or representative capacity. He has also failed to report his wife's interest in JEST and his shareholding in another company (which sole business is to hold the commercial property in which JEST operates) to his supervisor, the Secretary for the Treasury, in accordance with civil service regulations.
5. Copies of the relevant civil service regulations and departmental circulars have been deposited with the Clerk to the Panel.
Termination of Service
6. The Administration has carefully considered the Director of Audit's report, the circumstances of the case and Mr Wong's explanations. Having regard to the nature of the breach particularly given the seniority and importance of the functions and responsibilities of the post of Commissioner of Inland Revenue, we consider that Mr Wong's employment should be terminated as soon as possible under provisions of his contract.
7. Accordingly, we have revoked Mr Wong's appointment as Commissioner of Inland Revenue and terminated his employment with Government. Mr Wong has been duly notified on 19 August 1999.
8. A press statement (Annex B) on the case will be released at 3:30 p.m. on 19 August 1999.
Civil Service Bureau
3:30 p.m. on 19.8.99]
Commissioner of Inland Revenue
The Chief Executive today (19 August 1999) announced the publication of the report submitted by the Director of Audit. The report deals with the examination on whether Mr WONG Ho-sang, Commissioner of Inland Revenue has, in the period since 24 April 1996, personally dealt with tax returns or submissions made or represented by a company owned by Mr Wong's wife and whether the relevant Ordinances and internal directions and instructions have been duly observed.
2. The findings of the Director of Audit's report reveal that Mr Wong has dealt with seven cases in which his wife's firm acted as the tax representative or consultant of the taxpayers concerned. The Director of Audit cannot find evidence that the due collection of public moneys has been put at risk or that the relevant Ordinances have not been duly observed in the completed cases. However, Mr Wong failed to report his ownership of a subscriber share in a private company, to avoid direct involvement in the cases and to avoid or report any possible conflict of interest in accordance with the requirement of the prevailing Civil Service regulations.
3. Having considered the Director of Audit's report, the circumstances of the case and Mr Wong's explanations, Ag CS has decided to revoke the appointment of Mr Wong as Commissioner of Inland Revenue and the Secretary for the Civil Service, in consultation with the Secretary for the Treasury, has decided to terminate the employment of Mr Wong with immediate effect (19 August 1999) in accordance with the provisions of Mr Wong's contract of employment. Mr Wong has been advised of the decision.
4. Mrs Agnes SIN LAW Yuk-lin, Deputy Commissioner of Inland Revenue will continue to act as Commissioner of Inland Revenue pending formal appointment to the post is decided.