Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal clarifies offence of bribery of agents

In a unanimous decision, Hong Kong’s highest court cleared Stephen Chan, a well-known Hong Kong television personality, and his co-accused, of bribery in connection with his televised appearance at a New Year’s Eve countdown event. While the facts of the case were unusual, the Court of Final Appeal (“CFA”) helpfully clarified the scope of Section 9 of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (“POBO”).

The CFA held that it is not enough simply that a person who happens to be another’s agent accepts a payment, the agent’s conduct (procured by the payment) must be aimed at or intended to influence or affect the principal’s affairs or business in a manner that undermines the integrity of the agency relationship by injuring the bond of trust and loyalty between principal and agent.

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