HONG KONG, May 6, 2009 (AFP) - The former Hong Kong managing director of fast food giant McDonald's was Wednesday jailed for four years and five months for taking almost 300,000 US dollars in kickbacks from a supplier.
Hong Kong's District Court also ordered Lau Si-sing to pay 2.3 million Hong Kong dollars to his former employer, the same amount he had accepted in bribes from the corn supplier.
Judge Johnny Chan said it was a "serious case of corruption" and had been driven by Lau's "insatiable demand for money".
"He was supposed to lead all those who were under him," Chan told the court. "However he abused his position and what he did, in asking for and accepting bribes, was a breach of trust."
Lau started work for McDonald's as a trainee in the United States in 1984 and worked his way up to become the head of the restaurant chain in Hong Kong, the court heard.
In 2005, as McDonald's was increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables on offer in its restaurants, Lau asked someone from Siam Ready, a Thai firm that was then a potential supplier, to pay him kickbacks equivalent to 10 percent of future deals.
Lau gave the firm the contract to supply McDonald's with corn in June 2005.
Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption, which investigated the case, said the supplier had agreed to the payments as he believed that this was how McDonald's did business.
Over the next two years the money was paid into the bank account of Lau or his wife as McDonald's purchased more than 25 million Hong Kong dollars of goods from Siam Ready.
Lau had been found guilty at an earlier hearing of two counts of conspiracy, including asking the supplier to lie to police.