ICAC abandons inquiry into shares deal for urban councillors

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 February, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 February, 1997, 12:00am

The ICAC has dropped its investigation into the allocation of Kwong On Bank shares to urban councillors.

The anti-graft body wrote to council and bank chairman Dr Ronald Leung Ding-bong, councillor Christina Ting Yuk-chee and several other councillors, telling them the inquiry had been completed. Investigators had asked councillors whether they did 'secret deals' to make stock-market profits from the listing of the bank.

The one-page letter, seen by the South China Morning Post, said the ICAC had launched an investigation after receiving complaints. The letter, dated January 29, read: 'The investigation is over and a report has been submitted to this committee [ICAC operations review committee]. According to the known facts, the committee considers the ICAC should not keep investigating. The commissioner of the ICAC has agreed.' Dr Leung said yesterday the listing controversy had hurt him: 'This case has troubled me for a long time. The results show there is justice in society. I don't want to further comment on the case or criticise anybody.' Miss Ting said the investigation result showed the public had misunderstood the issue. 'I do not have any special feeling about this letter because I never thought I had done anything wrong. This should mark an end to the whole issue,' she said.

Democratic Party legislator Fred Li Wah-ming, who also received the ICAC letter, said it showed no special favours had been done.

Mr Li had bought 4,000 shares but when the issue became controversial sold them at a loss on the orders of party leaders.

Another urban councillor, Manuel Chan Tim-shing, who previously called for an independent inquiry into the controversy, said the outcome could help the council's credibility.

He said there was no need for further investigation, since a mechanism for declaring councillors' interests had been established.

Many councillors spent thousands of dollars buying Kwong On Bank shares during last June's listing. Shares were oversubscribed 23 times when they were floated.

Some councillors affirmed that they had sought to buy shares through Miss Ting. The buy-up fuelled speculation about the role of bank and council chairman Dr Leung in the investments.

Dr Leung denied allegations that he had assisted fellow councillors to procure the bank's shares.

Miss Ting acknowledged that she had bought 200,000 to 300,000 shares. She denied allegations of preferential treatment for councillors.