The Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) recently detected a subsidy scam involving a local education centre defrauding the government-funded Continuing Education Development Plan, the anti-graft body said in a statement on Wednesday.
The education centre allegedly offered cash kickbacks to residents who applied for its courses, the statement said.
CCAC officials discovered that while at least 192 local residents had enrolled in the government-subsidised courses, most of them never showed up for class, the statement noted.
All of the courses were subsidised by the Continuing Education Development Plan of the Education and Youth Affairs Bureau (DSEJ).
According to the statement, the registrants merely provided their ID card data in exchange for kickbacks of between 2,000 and 2,500 patacas, and then three people from the centre applied for the government subsidy based on forged applications and course attendance records.
The centre scammed the bureau out of more than MOP 1 million (US$126,000), the statement said.
During the course of the investigation, the CCAC officials discovered that someone had even instructed some of the registrants on how to “respond to questions from the CCAC”, such as memorising the names of the courses, names of the instructors and falsely reporting that they had attended the courses.
The case involves fraud, document forgery and computer forgery, and it was referred to the Public Prosecution Office (MP) on Wednesday, the statement noted.
According to the statement, the CCAC reminds citizens that when applying for any type of government subsidy, they must abide by the law so that “every cent of the public funds” will be used effectively in a “targeted manner”.
The Continuing Education Development Plan was first introduced by the government in 2011.
During the previous round of the Continuing Education Development Plan 2017-2019, local residents aged 15 or above were able to apply for a subsidy of 6,000 patacas for local or overseas educational programmes.
The fourth round which was to begin this year was put on hold, as announced by Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng in a press conference about his 2020 Policy Address last week, in the wake of a hard-hitting report by the Commission of Audit (CA) that discovered similar issues with the Continuing Education Development Plan.