A year after his first court appearance, former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang Yam-kuen on Tuesday was slapped with a third charge over renting a three-storey penthouse in Shenzhen that he failed to disclose when he was chief executive.
The High Court – approving the prosecutors’ request – ruled that Tsang should face an extra count of “chief executive accepting an advantage”.
The new charge under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, in addition to two others Tsang is already facing under common law, carries a maximum penalty of a HK$500,000 fine and seven years in jail.
The case centres on his alleged dealings with Bill Wong Cho-bau, a major shareholder of then radio station Wave Media, and interior designer Barrie Ho Chow-lai, over the penthouse between 2010 and 2012.
The new charge alleges that Tsang accepted an advantage – namely, the refurbishment and redecoration of the penthouse – as “an inducement” or “reward” to perform an act as chief executive.
Tsang, 72, allegedly “approved in principle and formally granted” the applications by Wong’s company, later renamed DBC, for a digital broadcasting licence, the surrender of its AM radio licence, and the appointment of Professor Arthur Li Kwok-cheung as DBC director and board chairman.
Tsang, who is the highest-ranking Hong Kong official ever to be prosecuted, arrived at the court in Admiralty yesterday accompanied by his wife Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei and a dozen bodyguards.
Under heightened security, members of the public and journalists were not allowed to enter the cordoned-off area 30 minutes prior to the hearing, even after the former chief executive’s arrival.
Tsang was grim-faced but sounded confident as he took the initiative to say “hello, all” as he walked past the media pack.
The first of the three charges alleges that Tsang, when he was chief executive and presided over his cabinet, the Executive Council, wilfully misconducted himself by failing to disclose and conceal his dealings with Wong over the penthouse.
At the time he was involved in the decision regarding radio licences, the charge alleged.
In the second misconduct charge, Tsang is accused of suggesting that interior designer Barrie Ho Chow-lai be nominated under the city’s honours and awards system between December 2010 and July 2011.
But Tsang allegedly failed to tell the permanent secretary for the Chief Executive’s Office, Development Bureau, and the Honours and Non-official Justices of the Peace Selection Committee that Ho had been tasked with designing the Shenzhen flat, and that it was done for his benefit.
He also allegedly failed to inform the relevant bodies of the honours system being used to reward Ho for his penthouse work.
Tsang is expected to return to court for another hearing on October 27.
Source: South China Morning Post