May 9, 2008
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Hong Kong jewellery tycoon jailed for tourist scam

May 9, 2008

HONG KONG, May 9, 2008 (AFP) - A Hong Kong jewellery tycoon was jailed for more than three years on Friday May 10th for bribing travel agents to bring tourists to his company's showrooms, a report said.

Photo : Jonathan Utz/AFP

Tse Sui-luen, the 70-year-old founder of the TSL Jewellery empire, was sentenced to three years and three months for offences including conspiracy to offer advantages to agents, false accounting and theft, local broadcaster Cable TV said.

The tycoon's 38-year-old son, Tommy Tse, was imprisoned for five years for the same offences. Three senior managers of TSL were also jailed, the report added.

TSL offered about 170 million Hong Kong dollars (22 million US) as illegal rebates to agents between 1996 and 2005. The money was channelled through offshore companies before being remitted to agents in order to avoid tax.

Tse and his son were also found to have conspired with others to steal around 2.7 million Hong Kong dollars from the company in 2002. The stolen money was covered up by bonus payments purportedly paid to other employees.

On Tuesday, Tse's lawyer submitted to court 70 mitigation letters including some written by tycoons and movie star Jackie Chan, asking for leniency, the South China Morning Post reported.

Tse's lawyer said they would decide whether to appeal after studying the judgment, Cable TV said.

Hong Kong was hit by a string of tourism scandals last year, when visitors, often from mainland China, were forced to visit certain stores and given the hard-sell to buy goods before being allowed to leave.

In addition, "zero-fee tour" package tour scams, in which visitors are charged less than the basic costs for holidays in return for spending much of their time in stores and restaurants that pay the guides commission.

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