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Hong Kong retail corruption warning

With the economic downturn intensifying competition, there is a growing risk of malpractice and corruption in the Hong Kong retail sector, officials warn.
Frontline employees and senior management could be easily tempted to commit bribery by reserving high-demand goods for certain customers, and abusing staff purchase schemes, says the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).
To raise awareness of the risks, the ICAC has released a corruption prevention guidebook for training employees, mainly in the retail industry.
“We chose retail to be one of our targeted industries because it plays a very important role in the overall economy and the livelihoods of Hong Kong people,” says assistant commissioner of corruption prevention Jenny Au-yeung Wong Mei-fong.
She says malpractice by frontline staff would hinder Hong Kong’s reputation as a “shopping paradise”.
About 20 to 30 corruption complaints have already been received, and Au-yeung says it is necessary to step up preventative efforts with the economic downturn spurring fierce competition among retailers.
She says one of the most common practices is for shop assistants to reserve popular items, such as new iPhone devices and certain brands of milk powder, for traders who give them unauthorised rebates or advantages.
Staff discounts are often abused, with employees reselling products at a higher price.
Au-yeung says such acts may infringe the city’s anti-bribery laws, and offenders could face up to seven years in prison or a fine of up to HK$500,000 (US$64,410).
ICAC has a hotline for complaints on its website.

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