ESF kindergarten ex-administrator and 10 parents charged with $900,000 bribery over K1 admission
A former administrator of an international kindergarten was charged by ICAC for allegedly soliciting and accepting bribes totalling over HK$900,000 from parents for assisting their children’s admission to K1 class of the kindergarten.
A parent rejected the solicitation on the spot while 10 others who had allegedly offered bribes were also charged. The 10 parents charged came from eight families.
The case involved 13 pupils who made K1 admission applications to ESF International Kindergarten (Wu Kai Sha) (WKSK) for the three school years between 2019/20 and 2021/22. The bribe payment in respect of each placement ranged from HK$20,000 to HK$100,000.
The 11 defendants were released on ICAC bail, pending their appearance in the Shatin Magistrates’ Courts on Friday for the case to be transferred to the District Court.
Fatima Rumjahn, 52, former administrator of WKSK employed by ESF Educational Services Limited (ESF), faces a total of 13 charges – eight of conspiracy for an agent to accept an advantage, four of agent accepting an advantage and one of agent soliciting an advantage.
The 10 parents, aged between 34 and 44, are Marissa Choy Wai-yin and her partner Lee Chun-long (the Lees); Cora Lam Man-hei and her husband Cheung Ka-ming (the Cheungs); and six mothers – Tsui Wai-him, Kong Ching-men, Julia Wong Wing-man, Vida Lau Ying-kwan (formerly known as Vida Lau Wai-tak), Ma Yin-man, and Li Jiebing.
Lau jointly faces two of the above conspiracy charges with Rumjahn, while the Lees, the Cheungs and the remaining five mothers each jointly face one conspiracy charge with Rumjahn.
The offences took place between September 2018 and August 2021. Rumjahn was responsible for handling admission applications for K1 classes, which took place annually in September. She accepts eight bribes totalling over HK$650,000 for causing ESF to offer eight K1 placements at WKSK to the children of the eight families.
Another charge alleges that Kong unlawfully incited Rumjahn to solicit a bribe of a certain sum from Choy for offering a K1 placement at WKSK to one family's child.
Four other charges allege that Rumjahn accepted four bribes totalling HK$190,000 from four other mothers for offering four K1 placements at WKSK to their children.
The remaining charge alleges that Rumjahn solicited a bribe of HK$50,000 from another mother for offering a K1 placement to her child. That mother rejected the solicitation on the spot.
The ICAC reminds parents that they should never offer bribes in exchange for school placements for their children. If they are unsure of any requests for fees made by school staff, they should clarify with the school management.