Sun Hung Kai Properties

Kwoks 'paid HK$34m in bribes'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 July, 2012, 12:00am

Ex-chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan took more than HK$34 million worth of bribes from the billionaire Kwok brothers and two others in return for favours, the ICAC alleged yesterday.

The graft-buster charged Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen - co-chairmen of Sun Hung Kai Properties - and Hui with bribery and public misconduct.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption alleged that between 2000 and 2009 Hui received almost HK$30 million in cash, more than HK$5 million in loans and the rent-free use of a luxury flat in Happy Valley, where he now lives.

In return, Hui is accused of favouring the brothers while he was the city's No 2 official, and also during his time as an executive councillor, while chairman of the steering committee of the West Kowloon Cultural District project, and as head of the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority.

Hui, 64, faces eight corruption charges. Thomas Kwok, 59, faces two charges and Raymond Kwok, 58, faces three. No pleas were entered in the Eastern Court hearing, which lasted about 30 minutes.

Magistrate David Dufton adjourned the hearing until October 12 to allow prosecutors to prepare papers and seek overseas legal help.

He allowed bail for the Kwoks, Hui and two other men charged: Sun Hung Kai's executive director Thomas Chan Kui-yuen and Francis Kwan Hung-sang, a former official of the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Hui's bail was set at HK$500,000, and the Kwoks' at HK$10 million. Hui and Kwan were ordered not to leave Hong Kong.

Last night, in a clear sign that the company was making contingency plans for a worst-case scenario, Adam Kwok Kai-fai, 29, the son of Thomas Kwok, and Edward Kwok Ho-lai, 31, the son of Raymond Kwok, were appointed as alternate directors to their fathers with immediate effect.

Thomas and Raymond will continue as joint chairmen and managing directors.

It had been 117 days since the ICAC sensationally arrested the Kwoks and Hui.

As he left court to face the media pack, Raymond Kwok said: 'I am thankful for the attention given to me by friends from the media.

'I believe I have not done anything wrong, and that Hong Kong's judicial system is very fair. I will do what I can to dismiss the accusations, so as to show I am innocent.'

Thomas Kwok repeated three times: 'Thanks for caring.'

According to lawyers there will be 41 witnesses in the case, mostly civil servants, but not Walter Kwok Ping-sheung, the eldest of the brothers.

No charges were brought against four other suspects, including Walter Kwok, who was arrested in May, soon after his brothers. The four reported back to the ICAC yesterday and had their bail renewed after being arrested in March or May.

Of the company's reshuffle, an analyst who asked not to be named, said: 'It is a kind of contingency plan in order to prevent a management crisis in case the co-chairmen are found guilty.'

Thomas Kwok spoke to the media at the company's headquarters in Wan Chai at 7pm, and was joined by the full team of nine senior managers, including Thomas Chan.

'The [management] changes will further strengthen our corporate governance structure and will ensure that the company continues to develop steadily. I have full confidence in SHKP's prospects,' Kwok said.

'I cannot make further comments on the matter at this time, but I have confidence in the judicial system of Hong Kong and trust that the truth will prevail eventually.'

Mike Wong Chik-wing and Victor Lui Ting - who have each served the company for over 30 years - were appointed deputy managing directors.

SHKP requested its shares, and that of its two subsidiaries SmarTone and Sunevision, be suspended from trading at 9.48am, pending the release of the ICAC announcement. Trading of the shares would continue on Monday, the firm said last night.