Cathay Pacific Cabin Crew members who accepted payments in exchange for Staff Travel ticket gets prison sentence

Three former Cathay Pacific Cabin Crew members have been sentenced to prison, ranging from five to six months for their involvement in a bribery scheme. The individuals used their employee privileges to purchase 75 flight tickets for three overseas travellers in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes.

Between 2018 and 2019, the former flight purser, Lau Ching-man accepted bribes from an overseas fashion designer to facilitate the purchase of discounted air tickets through Cathay Pacific’s Companion Travel Scheme.

This scheme allowed Cathay Pacific employees to nominate a travel companion who could benefit from ticket discounts. However, it was against company policy for airline staff to receive any advantages in exchange for nominating others as travel companions.

Lau, aged 36, received the longest sentence of six months after pleading guilty to three counts of conspiracy to accept bribes.

Former flight attendants Lee Chung-fai, 28, and Wong Oi-ting, 33, were each found guilty of one count of the same charge and received sentences of five months each. District Court Judge Anthony Kwok Kai-on delivered the sentences.

The court learned that the trio had repaid Cathay Pacific approximately US$11,500 (HK$89,700), which equaled the total amount of bribes they had accepted.

Judge Kwok acknowledged that incarceration was necessary due to the corrupt nature of the case but decided that the prison sentences should be limited to months rather than years, as the actions of the cabin crew resulted in “minimal losses.”

Lau received bribes exceeding US$1,500 for nominating the fashion designer as her travel companion. She also persuaded Lee and Wong to nominate two friends of the fashion designer as their travel companions, for which Lee and Wong received bribes of approximately US$5,000 and US$3,500, respectively.

The prosecution argued that the trio’s actions had caused Cathay Pacific a loss of HK$860,000 in revenue, claiming that 49 flight tickets had been purchased at discounted rates. However, Judge Kwok disputed this assertion, stating that the scheme explicitly stated that holders of discounted tickets could only board flights if there were available seats.

“From this perspective, the financial loss presented by the prosecution is largely misconstrued and greatly exaggerated, without considering Cathay Pacific’s practices and policies or commercial realities,” Judge Kwok remarked.

In their defense, the lawyers for the three individuals stated that they had endured considerable stress during the legal proceedings. Lau, who is now volunteering, aspires to be a positive role model for her son. Lee has attended international sports events and plans to pursue a career in physiotherapy, while Wong, who faced financial difficulties at the time of the crime, is considered unlikely to repeat the offense.

Image: © Cathay Pacific

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