Five asylum-claimants deny HK$140,000 aid fraud

Local | 15 Jul 2016 1:45 pm

Five asylum seekers and torture claimants pleaded not guilty in Tsuen Wan Court today to defrauding the government of more than HK$140,000 in benefits.

The prosecution alleged that between 2010 and 2014, they allegedly cheated the non-governmental organization, International Social Service Hong Kong Branch, of government rental and utilities allowances. A pre-trial hearing was scheduled for October 13 and the defendants were released on bail.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption said in a statement three of the defendants, who were charged Wednesday in three separate cases, were Mohammad Ashik Ali, 33, Delwar, 41, and Shahidul Islam, 45; while two other defendants charged yesterday in two separate cases were Abu Sama Salim and Mohammad Johirul Islam, both 32.

Ashik Ali faced two counts of fraud, while the remaining four defendants each faced a similar offense.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to their respective charges today. Acting Principal Magistrate Cheang Kei-hong adjourned their cases to October 13 this year for pre-trial reviews, and granted them cash bail.

The cases arose from a corruption complaint.

Since 2006, ISS, a non-governmental organization, has been entrusted by the Social Welfare Department to provide assistance-in-kind, including rental allowances and allowances on utilities charges, to asylum seekers and torture claimants.

The charges alleged that between March 18, 2010 and February 13, 2014, the defendants falsely represented to ISS that they had rented five premises in Fanling, the New Territories, from three landlords, and with intent to defraud, induced ISS to pay rental allowances and allowances on utilities charges in the total sum of about HK$170,000 into the bank accounts of the three landlords.

Apart from the above defendants, six others were earlier charged by the ICAC for their alleged roles in similar fraud cases. Appearing in the Tsuen Wan Magistracy on Wednesday, they pleaded not guilty to their charges, and had their cases adjourned to October 13 this year for pre-trial reviews.

ISS has rendered full assistance to the ICAC during its investigation.-RTHK/The Standard

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