Does honesty pay? Ask a cabbie

The honest taxi driver in Hong Kong could be denied the cash left behind by a forgetful passenger.

Story highlights

  • Gambler returning from Macau reportedly left around U.S. $256,000 in the back of a cab in Hong Kong
  • The driver turned it into police, who then tried to track down the rightful owner
  • Hong Kong law dictates that after three months, the police may return property to the finder
  • But the police declined to hand over the cash saying they were still investigating
An honest taxi driver and forgetful passenger have left Hong Kong police trying to sort out who has a rightful claim on more than $250,000 in cash left in the back of a cab.
According to a report in the South China Morning Post, police are seeking legal advice over the case which began in the middle of last year.
A gambler returning from Macau reportedly left two million Hong Kong dollars, roughly U.S. $256,000, in the back of the taxi. The driver turned it into the police, who then tried to track down the rightful owner.
Hong Kong law dictates that after three months, the police may return Hong Kong property to the finder.
The taxi driver came forward at this point but the authorities declined to give him the prize, saying they were still investigating and would continue to hold the cash.
But the forgetful gambler eventually spotted the story in a newspaper and came forward to collect the money after proving he was the rightful owner, the report said. He claimed he didn't report the loss because he didn't think anyone would hand the money in.
"He was able to say the money was from Macau, the type of bag it was left in, and the material used to bind the wads of banknotes. He could also say exactly where and when he boarded and left the cab and other details," a police officer told the SCMP.
Now the police have to decide whether the bemused cabbie has a case, or if the hapless gambler can finally take all.
Huen Wong of the Law Society in Hong Kong believes in the end the owner will have a better claim to the money than taxi driver. Giving the goods to the finder after three months "is at the discretion of the police" and not legally required, he said.