“Judicial Review King” Kwok Cheuk-kin arrested in Cheung Chau for alleged welfare fraud

Kwok Cheuk-kin

6th June 2024 – (Hong Kong) Kwok Cheuk-kin, widely recognised as the “Judicial Review King” in Hong Kong, has been apprehended by the authorities on allegations of involvement in welfare fraud. The case is being investigated by the Serious Crime Unit of the Eastern Kowloon Region. Today, Kwok Cheuk-kin was granted bail and allowed to return home after being briefly held at the Cheung Chau Police Station. He was escorted back to his residence by a police vehicle.

According to the police, after a thorough investigation by the Criminal Division of the Eastern Kowloon Region, an 85-year-old man surnamed Kwok was arrested on Cheung Chau Island today on charges of “fraud.” It is alleged that between 2013 and 2022, he deceived the government by making false statements and providing fabricated information, concealing personal income and assets. Through these means, he is accused of fraudulently obtaining government subsidies and social welfare benefits, including public housing, elderly living allowances, comprehensive social security assistance, and legal aid. Kwok has been granted bail pending further investigation.

The police emphasise that anyone who employs fraudulent means to gain personal benefits or causes harm to others, including government institutions, may be in violation of Section 16A of the Theft Ordinance under Chapter 210 of the Hong Kong Laws, which pertains to the offence of fraud. If convicted, individuals may face a maximum sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment. It is crucial for citizens not to test the boundaries of the law.

Over the years, Kwok Cheuk-kin has filed more than 30 judicial reviews on matters related to public interest, including lead-contaminated water incidents, challenging indigenous land rights, the legality of the “co-location” arrangement for the high-speed rail, lack of identification numbers displayed by police “Speed Dragons” vehicles, allocation of funds for the “Tomorrow’s Lantau” project, and the exemption of COVID-19 vaccination for medical consultation. However, most of his judicial reviews were either rejected or ruled against him. Consequently, Kwok Cheuk-kin accumulated over HK$1.56 million in legal fees, leading to an application for bankruptcy filed by the Department of Justice on 8th July, 2020.

In November 2022, an investigative report by Ta Kung Pao revealed that Kwok had been allocated a public housing unit in the Xingli House of Yau Lai Estate in 2019. However, he allowed another woman to reside in the unit while he continued to live in a property on Cheung Chau Island registered under his former spouse’s name. This raised suspicions of Kwok’s potential abuse of public housing privileges. Following the exposure, the Housing Department initiated an investigation and subsequently reclaimed the unit. Kwok later admitted to primarily residing on Cheung Chau Island, explaining that the allocated public housing unit was not wheelchair-accessible, which made it inconvenient for him to live there. He denied the allegation that the public housing unit was “reclaimed,” asserting that he voluntarily returned it and emphasising his eligibility for applying and residing in public housing.

In 2015, Kwok Cheuk-kin filed a judicial review challenging the indigenous land rights policy in the New Territories. Although he initially received legal aid for the case, the aid was withdrawn due to suspicions of concealing his financial transactions. It was discovered that Kwok’s bank accounts showed inconsistent financial activities, which raised concerns about his disclosure of assets. He had previously received comprehensive social security assistance but, following the advice of a social worker, opened a new bank account to receive higher allowances. Upon opening the account, he deposited HK$45,000, and within a year, the account had frequent transactions exceeding HKD 10,000 on more than ten occasions. The Legal Aid Department requested an explanation of these assets, to which Kwok Cheuk-kin provided conflicting explanations, claiming earnings from odd jobs and paper recycling as well as gambling winnings. The Legal Aid Department considered his statements contradictory and subsequently withdrew legal aid support.