InvestHK chief denies allegations of corruption over 'gift' of wine

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 September, 2009, 12:00am

The head of the government's investment promotion arm yesterday flatly denied allegations of corruption - arising from an alleged gift of a case of wine from an aide - and said he expected to be cleared of any wrongdoing by an inquiry now under way.

InvestHK director general Simon Galpin said the allegations - published in a Chinese-language newspaper yesterday - were 'completely unfounded' .

'Allegations of this nature, no matter how malicious, warrant thorough and fair investigation,' he said. 'An investigation is already under way and I am fully co-operating with the [civil service] bureau and hope that the investigation will be completed shortly. I trust I and my colleagues would be fully vindicated.'

The allegations were brought to the government's attention in a letter sent by 'a Hong Kong citizen' to the Civil Service Bureau, the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau and the Chief Executive's Office on Wednesday.

The allegations stem from a case of wine purportedly sent by Charles Ng Siong-kwong, an associate director general at InvestHK, to Galpin as a gift on April 2, five days before he was confirmed in his post.

According to the letter, Galpin, thinking the wine had been delivered by mistake, sent the case to the office receptionist, who discovered it contained a note from Ng to Galpin. The complainant said Galpin subsequently confirmed that the wine was a gift from Ng.

Ng is on leave and could not be reached. He will return on Monday.

The Acceptance of Advantages (Chief Executive's Permission) Notice states that a civil servant may, in his private capacity, accept up to HK$3,000 in gifts from a close personal friend or up to HK$1,500 from other people on special occasions, like a wedding, birthday or someone's retirement. For other occasions, the value of the gifts is limited to HK$500 from close friends and HK$250 from other people.

The person who gives the gift must have no official dealings with the civil servant's department and not be the officer's subordinate. The recipient should not be in his official capacity when presented with the gift. Permission must be sought when receiving gifts in any other circumstances or the gift should be reported to the relevant bureau, which will decide how to dispose of it.

Ng is one of three associate directors general at InvestHK.