ICAC charges Brian Kan with corrupt conduct
Clifford Lo and Joyce Ng
Five-time champion horse trainer and rural leader Brian Kan Ping-chee was charged yesterday with corrupt conduct in an election. He was accused of offering a HK$130,000 bribe to a village representative to buy his vote.
The 73-year-old retired trainer was formally charged when he reported back to the Independent Commission Against Corruption headquarters in North Point following his arrest in March.
He was released on bail and will appear in Fanling Court next Tuesday, the ICAC said. Kan was arrested on suspicion of violating the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance.
His arrest came two days after the executive committee election of Sheung Shui Rural Committee in which he ran unsuccessfully. North district councillor Hau Kam-lam, who was arrested with him, has not been charged and could not be reached for comment.
'The charge alleges that on February 27, 2011, the defendant engaged in corrupt conduct in the election,' an ICAC statement said. 'It is alleged that the defendant, without reasonable excuse, offered HK$130,000 to another village representative of the Sheung Shui district as an inducement to vote for him.'
Graft-busters launched an investigation after receiving a complaint about pre-election vote-buying. Kan was chairman of the Sheung Shui Rural Committee until 2003.
A person familiar with the investigation said Kan was the only person charged so far and the probe was continuing.
The most influential horse trainer of his generation, Kan is also a powerful figure in the New Territories. One of three indigenous representatives of Tsung Pak Long village, he was an outspoken opponent of efforts to win inheritance rights for New Territories women in the 1990s and of a conservation area for birds in Long Valley in 2001.
In March, Kan lost the election with 16 votes. The 46 village representatives in Sheung Shui voted among themselves to decide who would sit on the central executive committee, whose members are the only people eligible to run for chairmanship of the rural committee.
With Kan's failure, Bowie Hau Chi-keung had no competitor as chairman and won another term.
Hau was involved in an illegal dumping case in his village, Ho Sheung Heung, by helping the landowners clear and green the site in 2009.
The posts of committee chairman and the deputies are keenly contested because they carry ex-officio membership of the powerful Heung Yee Kuk. That means the holders have influence on rural development matters and negotiations with the government.
A corrupt conduct charge carries a maximum fine of HK$500,000 and a jail term of up to seven years.
The record number of winners Brian Kan Ping-chee saddled up during 25 years as a horse trainer under licence to the Hong Kong Jockey Club