C.Y. admits he made 'errors' on expenses
Chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying has filed an application with the High Court seeking to correct 'inadvertent errors' he made in his election expenses.
Leung's transition office said the corrections involved at least HK$149,000, while a source familiar with Leung's election campaign said the corrected spending would still be below the expenses cap of HK$13 million under the law.
Leung said in the court filings, released yesterday, that he had made mistakes in the Return and Declaration of Election Expenses and Election Donations forms filed on April 24 by reason of 'inadvertence' and not 'bad faith'.
He is seeking to withdraw the documents and file new ones within 21 days. He is also asking the court to spare him a possible conviction for failing to file an expenses return in accordance with the law.
Accounts submitted by Leung in April showed he spent HK$11.2 million during his campaign and received donations to the value of HK$14.84 million.
He earlier said he would give any unspent campaign donations to the Community Chest.
A spokesman for the Chief Executive-Elect's Office last night said Leung's request mainly involved a miscellaneous expense item of around HK$149,000 as well as other petty expense items. It also involved deposit refunds received after Leung's accounts were filed, and some typographical errors.
The spokesman stressed that the proposed corrections were not being made in the light of a Court of Final Appeal judgment handed down last month.
The judgment stated that an election candidate must also disclose expenses he incurred during the time after he, by 'word or deed', had all but declared his candidacy.
The spokesman added that the result of the application to the court would not affect Leung's assumption of power on July 1.
A person familiar with Leung's campaign said the corrected spending would still be below the expenses cap of HK$13 million under the law.
'There would be no fundamental changes in the declaration,' the source said.
'As a key candidate in the election, Mr Leung is very careful about the calculation of the election expenses.
'Therefore he follows the legal requirement to file an application and to make the corresponding changes.'
Leung made the application under section 40(3) and (4) of the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance.
The provision states that a candidate can apply to the court for an order enabling the candidate to correct any error or false statement in an election return or in any document linked to the return.
Deputy High Court Judge Queeny Au Yeung Kwai-yue will hear the application on June 22.
In last month's Court of Final Appeal judgment, Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li said: 'Where a person has all but declared his candidacy, the definition of candidate under the Hong Kong legislation will be sufficiently wide to enable expenses of activities or matters which take place or occur during the time a person is to be taken to be a candidate, to be treated as election expenses.'
Leung formally declared his candidacy in November but he signalled as early as in September that he would run in the election. His expenses submission included only costs incurred after November.
Law professor Eric Cheung Tat-ming, of the University of Hong Kong, said it was obvious and there was a strong case that the money Leung spent in the two months before he formally declared his candidacy would have to be disclosed as a result of the top court's ruling.
Speculation that Leung would be a candidate for chief executive went on for years. But he took his first public steps towards a candidacy on September 9, when he announced his imminent resignation from his post as Executive Council convenor.