Friday, March 12, 2010
[SIZE=1][/SIZE]Flamboyant Television Broadcasts general manager and talk-show host Stephen Chan Chi-wan is under arrest for allegedly milking at least HK$10 million from his employer.The high-profile host of TVB's Be My Guest was yesterday taken into custody by the Independent Commission Against Corruption in relation to the activities of a shell company said to be under his control.
Also arrested on corruption charges were four others: TVB's head of business development Wilson Chan Wing- suen; variety department executive producer Wilson Chin Kwok-wai; actor Ning Jin; and Idea Empire Advertising and Production Company director Edthancy Tseng Pei-kun.
Stephen Chan, 51, allegedly controlled the shell company which accepted production contracts from TVB and then outsourced the work to other production houses, according to a source.
This allegedly allowed the shell company to accumulate as much as HK$10 million over the years. Some of TVB's top artists such as Bernice Liu, Moses Chan Ho, Raymond Lam Fung, Bosco Wong Chung-Chak, Tavia Yeung Yi and Charmaine Sheh Sze- man had been forced to perform in major shows and other functions, and even ribbon-cutting ceremonies, for free or at very low pay.
Each time the shell company would allegedly receive payments on their behalf and pocket the difference. The scam involved some of TVB's biggest shows such as Jade Singers Celebrate TVB Anniversary in October and last year's Jade Solid Gold, the source alleged.
The outsourcing was
unnecessary as TVB had the resources to handle these productions, including arrangements for venues, transport, costumes, make- up, lighting and music, the source said.All it did was allegedly allow the shell company to pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars for each show.
The ICAC is said to have launched the investigation two months ago following complaints. Chan was arrested at his Argyle Street home at 6am yesterday. There was another man inside his flat at the time who was not arrested. Ning Jin was escorted by ICAC officers to Metro Harbour View in Tai Kok Tsui while Wilson Chan and Wilson Chin were taken to ICAC headquarters in North Point.
The graftbusters yesterday refused to give details of the case. They only confirmed that five people - four from TVB and a director from an advertising and production company - had been "arrested in relation to corruption allegations."
But TVB identified the four staff involved, saying they had all be suspended from duty with immediate effect "pending further development."
The production of Stephen Chan's weekly show Be My Guest has been suspended but a prerecorded episode will be broadcast as scheduled. Shooting for it was completed on Wednesday with former TVB and i-Cable executive May Fung as Chan's special guest.
His duties will be temporarily handled by group general manager Mark Lee Po-on. The arrests came to light after TVB issued a statement at noon saying three of its staff had been involved in an ICAC investigation. Around 4.30pm, ICAC officers escorted Stephen Chan from its North Point headquarters to TVB headquarters in Tseung Kwan O to conduct further searches.
Chan, dressed casually in a gray jacket, did not answer questions from the media throng at the TVB office.
All the five arrested were held overnight at ICAC headquarters.