Pair avoid prison over false early MPF claims

Top News | Maisy Mok 17 Jun 2021

Two people have been handed suspended jail sentences after being found guilty of making false claims regarding the early withdrawal of their mandatory provident fund benefits on the grounds of permanently leaving Hong Kong.

The pair - whose names and ages were withheld by the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority - were sentenced to one and two months in jail, with the sentences suspended for two years.

The MPFA said the two individuals' initial early-withdrawal claims were approved in December 2006 and April 2013 as they said they were leaving Hong Kong permanently.

But they again made an early-withdrawal claim in April and May 2018 with another trustee company, again citing permanent departure as reason.

The trustee referred their applications to the MPFA to check against previous claim records.

Upon investigation, the MPFA discovered they had both made false or misleading statements in their declarations by stating they had never been paid from any MPF scheme.

One of them, it turned out, was a repeat offender, having been convicted of breaching the MPF ordinance in July 2010.

By law, an MPF scheme member can only make an early-withdrawal claim on grounds of permanently leaving Hong Kong once in their lifetime.

Anyone making a false or misleading statement and breaching the ordinance is liable to a maximum fine of HK$100,000 and one year's imprisonment on the first occasion.

So far, six people have been sentenced to imprisonment or given probation for making a false claim when applying for early withdrawal on the grounds of permanent departure from Hong Kong.

Due to the emigration wave, 7,700 MPF withdrawal claims on the grounds of permanent departure from Hong Kong were recorded in the first quarter of 2021.

That is up 1 percent year-on-year but down 9 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2020.

Meanwhile, the number of applications for the certificate of no-criminal conviction - a supplementary document for visa applications - hit a three-year high last month with 3,923 applications.

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