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June 2020

Early withdrawal of MPF by making a false declaration of permanent departure from HK is a criminal offence

An MPF scheme member was sentenced to seven days’ imprisonment, suspended for two years recently after being convicted of breaching the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance (MPFSO) by making a false claim to an MPF trustee for early withdrawal of MPF on the ground of permanent departure from Hong Kong. There have been other cases in which scheme members who made a false claim when applying for early withdrawal of MPF on the same ground were fined, or sentenced to community service or imprisonment.
 
According to the MPFSO, scheme members can withdraw their MPF only when they reach the age of 65. Early withdrawal of MPF is allowed under certain specific circumstances, including early retirement, permanent departure from Hong Kong, total incapacity, terminal illness, small balance or death.
 
When applying for early withdrawal of MPF on the ground of permanent departure from Hong Kong, a scheme member must submit a claim form, a statutory declaration and relevant documents satisfactory to the trustee that he or she is permitted to reside in a place outside Hong Kong. Scheme members can only apply for early withdrawal of MPF on the ground of permanent departure once in their lifetime. If scheme members return to Hong Kong after having withdrawn their MPF previously and enrol in another MPF scheme, they cannot apply for early withdrawal of the MPF on the same ground again. Any person making a false or misleading statement to the MPFA or MPF Trustees in this regard commits an offence and is liable to a maximum fine of $100,000 and one year’s imprisonment on the first conviction.
 
There have been some crime syndicates which abetted scheme members to make false declarations on the grounds of permanent departure from Hong Kong for early withdrawal of MPF benefits. The MPFA alerts scheme members not to fall prey to these syndicates and risk breaching the law. They should stay vigilant against unsolicited calls and not to disclose personal information to any unknown third party.
 
The MPFA has been taking stringent enforcement action against such offenders, among others, it maintains close communication with the relevant Government departments and investigates suspected cases to determine whether applicants have permanently departed from Hong Kong. Besides, the MPFA keeps a register of all scheme members who have withdrawn their MPF on the ground of permanent departure from Hong Kong to verify if an applicant has previously made a claim on the same ground.  
 
The MPF System is set up to help scheme members accumulate savings during employment and plan ahead for retirement. The MPFA reminds scheme members not to make early withdrawal of their MPF lightly in order to avoid affecting their retirement savings.

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