Tanner De Witt Successfully Defends Former Director Against Fraud and Conspiracy Charges in a White-Collar Crime Trial


In a significant white-collar criminal trial of Hong Kong, Tanner De Witt secured the acquittal of Mr. Leslie Harry Swann. The case revolved around the activities of a concrete compression test lab operated by a multinational company, where Mr. Swann served as a project director. This lab was responsible for testing materials used in public works projects, including the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge, the world’s longest sea crossing and open-sea fixed link.

The crux of the matter lay in the lab technicians’ actions: a substantial number of them manipulated test results by falsifying the timing of tests and substituting concrete cubes with other materials. These technicians faced conviction in a separate trial.

Mr. Swann and his co-defendant, another senior member of the company, faced charges related to conspiracy to defraud the Civil Engineering and Development Department (“CEDD”) and statutory fraud under the Theft Ordinance (Cap. 159). Their alleged offence was failing to disclose the falsification of concrete compression test results carried out by the lab technicians.

While the first defendant was found guilty of fraud, Mr. Swann—the second defendant—was acquitted after a 20-day trial. The judge accepted our team’s argument that this case transcended mere concrete testing; it centered on honesty, integrity, and adherence to contractual obligations. The judge recognized that Mr. Swann and the project team were not involved in the company’s internal investigation to avoid conflicts of interest. Importantly, evidence revealed that the lab technicians’ fraudulent actions were discovered during an independent investigation but were not communicated to the project team. Mr. Swann, having no knowledge of the fraud, had honestly signed the reports submitted to the CEDD. Tanner De Witt’s Mark Side and Kritika Sethia headed by Pamela Mak acted for Mr Swann. The Counsel team included John Reading SC of Pacific Chambers, Benson Tsoi SC of Parkside Chambers and  Henry Chung of Pacific Chambers.

Read the Reasons for Verdict here.

Pamela Mak and Kritika Sethia

If you would like to discuss any of the matters raised in this article, please contact:

Pamela Mak
Partner | E-mail

The above is not intended to be relied on as legal advice and specific legal advice should be sought at all times in relation to the above.