The Hong Kong Insurance Authority (HKIA) has taken disciplinary action against an unnamed insurance agent.
The woman has been banned from applying to be licensed for two years after she used a false academic certificate stating that she met the minimum education requirements to be able to work in the sector.
According to the HKIA, in October 2018, she used the fake document to register as an insurance agent under the self-regulatory regime in place at the time.
During the investigation, she admitted the qualification was not genuine and that she had not studied at the school named in the certificate. She also admitted to not having obtained any other qualifications that would have allowed her to meet the minimum education criteria.
The certificate was bought on social media platform WeChat for RMB 2,000 (£260, $280, €290).
Not fit and proper
The regulator said: “In the HKIA’s view, the former agent, in using a false academic certificate purchased via social media to feign that she had met the minimum academic requirements to be an insurance agent—when this was not the case—undertook an act so contemptible as to demonstrate her complete lack of fitness and properness to perform the role for which she was applying.
“The public are entitled to trust the insurance intermediaries they deal with for their insurance needs. Trust demands ethical conduct and integrity of character. An individual who displays such a lack of ethics and integrity by using a false academic certificate in a submission to a regulator violates that trust.
“If an agent cannot be trusted to submit authentic documents to a regulator, she cannot be trusted to serve the public. The IA has zero tolerance for this and individuals who have sought to utilise false academic certificates under the previous self-regulatory regime will not be considered fit and proper persons until they are able to establish that they have undergone such a complete reformation of character as to prove that their integrity has been restored—in addition to attaining the minimum education requirements.”
Change of rules
In September 2019, the regime for licensed insurance intermediaries changed and strengthened the punishment for submitting false academic certificates. It is now a criminal offence to provide false information to the HKIA in connection with an application for a licence or approval.
If found guilty, individuals will be subject to a HK$50,000 (£5,870, $6,370, €6,571) fine and a six-month prison sentence.
The regulator stressed that insurers have a role to play in the process and must make sure the people they hire submit accurate information and are subject to adequate checks.