Christian Zheng Sheng College halts operations, withholds deposits, as director arrested for violation of consumer protection law

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9th July 2024 – (Hong Kong) Christian Zheng Sheng College, has recently suspended its operations, leaving parents and students concerned over the refund of their deposits. The college’s CEO had previously stated that students would need to complete a minimum of two years of study to be eligible for a deposit refund. However, following the announcement of the college’s closure, Christian Zheng Sheng Association, the governing body, has refused to return the deposits. In response to public complaints, the Customs and Excise Department held a press conference this evening, revealing an investigation into a rehabilitation institution located on an outlying island. The institution is accused of making false claims during its two-year training courses, assuring students that their book fees would be refunded, but failing to honour this commitment. Additionally, staff members have alleged that parents were informed that their accommodation deposits would be returned upon the completion of their children’s courses, only to be told later that the deposits would not be refunded due to the institution’s cessation of training programs.

According to the Customs and Excise Department, the book fees involved amount to approximately HK$7,495, while the accommodation deposits paid by parents total around HK$8,000. Following an investigation, the department has arrested a 66-year-old male director of the rehabilitation institution on charges of violating the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, specifically pertaining to false product descriptions and misleading omissions. The arrested individual has been granted bail pending further investigation, and the Customs and Excise Department is continuing its efforts, not ruling out the possibility of additional arrests.

Under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, any business entity that omits or conceals important information during a transaction or provides crucial information in an unclear, difficult to understand, ambiguous, or untimely manner, resulting in or likely to result in a consumer making a transaction decision, is deemed to have committed an offense. Upon conviction, the maximum penalty is a fine of HK$500,000 and imprisonment for up to five years.