Mak 'allowed tenant to sell' controversial flat

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 July, 2012, 12:00am


Secretary for Development Mak Chai-kwong authorised a civil-servant tenant to sell a flat that is a cause of controversy because of a 'cross-leasing' scheme, Lands Registry documents reportedly show.

The other civil servant, Tsang King-man, meanwhile rented his own flat to Mak and later authorised Mak to sell it, Apple Daily reported.

Its report said this indicated there was a close relationship between the two. Mak has said the arrangement to lease each other's flats in a North Point building was not premeditated.

Mak has been accused of abusing government housing allowance while a civil servant in the 1980s by leasing his flat to Tsang and claiming the allowance for renting Tsang's flat.

Mak and Tsang gave each other written power of attorney to sell their flats in the City Garden estate, Apple Daily reported yesterday.

Mak bought a flat there in 1986 for HK$925,800. Two days after Mak's purchase, Tsang, currently assistant director of the Highways Department, bought an apartment one floor above for HK$928,000.

The two leased each other their flats while claiming rent allowance.

Solicitor Bruce Liu Sing-lee said such 'cross-leasing' was common practice among civil servants. But he said the power-of-attorney arrangement was strange. 'What landlord would give so much power to their tenant, so much that he or she could sell the flat?' he said.

Pan-democrat Liu, a member of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood, said it would be difficult to find either official in breach of any law. It was more a question of morality, he said.

'It is obviously a case of using money earned from rent to pay the mortgage,' Liu said.

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she had confidence in Mak's integrity and commitment to serve the public. Still, she said the Civil Service Bureau would look into the matter.

Mak said he would not comment because an investigation was being carried out, but maintained he had 'a clear conscience'.