A public housing tenant found guilty of concealing four properties worth more than HK$11 million from the government was ordered to perform 160 hours of community service on Thursday.
Cheung Shuk-kam was convicted earlier by Tuen Mun Court of two counts of making a false statement in a declaration form she submitted to the Housing Authority, an official body that regulates the city's public housing.
The housing ordinance forbids anyone knowingly making false statements on the Income and Asset Declaration Form. The offence carries a maximum fine of HK$50,000 and a jail sentence of six months.
But despite the restriction, Cheung, a resident of Tin Heng Estate in Tin Shui Wai, made no mention of the properties she possessed, a finding uncovered by a Housing Department investigation.
The properties' value, some HK$11.26 million, was more than four times the public housing rental housing income limit, at HK$2.4 million.
Those who exceed the limit by 100 times can be removed from their house under a policy revised in 2016, as the waiting time for the city's scarce public housing averaged at 5.3 years as of June 2018.
Deputy magistrate Eric Yao Kwok-sun considered a fine would not be sufficient to reflect the seriousness of the offence. So he imposed a community service order.
A spokesman for the department reminded public housing residents to declare truthfully their income and assets.
"Households living in (public rental housing) should complete their income and asset declaration forms accurately, which forms the foundation for the assessment of rent and their eligibility for continuing residence," he said. "Otherwise, they may be prosecuted."
Those that fail to do so could be charged with knowingly making a false statement or neglecting to furnish information as specified in a declaration form, which also carries a maximum fine of HK$25,000 and a jail term of three months.
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