Ex-Hong Kong official took secret payments from tycoons, trial told

Thu Jun 5, 2014 5:05am EDT
 
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By James Pomfret and Yimou Lee

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Prosecutors in Hong Kong's largest corruption trial opened their case on Thursday with details of what they described as "concealed and disguised" payments made to a former top civil servant by property tycoons seeking government favor.

Thomas and Raymond Kwok, the billionaire co-chairmen of Asia's largest developer, Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd 0016.HK, appeared in court with co-accused Rafael Hui, Hong Kong's former chief secretary.

The case involves a series of payments and loans totaling more than HK$37 million ($4.77 million) allegedly paid to Hui, who headed Hong Kong's civil service from 2005 to 2007.

The three men have pleaded not guilty to all charges, including conspiracy to offer an advantage to a public servant.

The case has thrown a spotlight on the close relationship between the city's powerful developers and government in the former British colony, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997 and has a separate legal system from the mainland.

Thomas Chan, a board member in charge of land purchases at Sun Hung Kai Properties, and Francis Kwan, a former Hong Kong Stock Exchange official, have also been charged in the case. They have also pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutor David Perry told the court that Hui had abused his position of power to receive millions of dollars in secret payments during his term in office.

"His loyalty to the public was compromised and undermined" by the use of public office and influence for personal gain, Perry said.   Continued...

 
Thomas Kwok, co-chairman of developer Sun Hung Kai Properties, poses for journalists upon his arrival at the High Court in Hong Kong May 8, 2014. REUTERS/Bobby Yip