Tang's wife liable for illegal works

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2012, 12:00am

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Although Henry Tang Ying-yen has taken the flak for illegal structures at a Kowloon Tong property, his wife is accountable under the law.

The Buildings Department says in a mandatory removal order or prosecution for such breaches, it is the property owner listed in the land registry who will be held responsible.

On Monday, Tang admitted a storage area had been built under the swimming pool at 7 York Road. Illegal additions, including a car park canopy, had also been made at another Tang property at 5A.

'Upon ... confirming the illegal structures, we will issue notices to the concerned owner listed in the land registry,' a department spokeswoman said.

According to the land registry, Tang's wife, Lisa Kuo Yu-chin, owns 7 York Road via On-Power, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands. Past declarations of interest show Tang transferred his shareholding in the company to Kuo around 2010, making her sole owner of the house. Tang owns 5A via another firm, Bluehouse Investments.

If Kuo fails to fix the breaches, she faces a maximum fine of HK$200,000 and one year in jail.

However, Kuo, who was in the spotlight last year after Tang admitted having an affair, is not likely to face charges other than illegal building works.

Greg Wong Chak-yan, former vice-chairman of the Town Planning Board, said media concerns about a possible violation of the town planning ordinance or the land lease for excessive floor space generated from the illegal works did not seem valid.

Wong said the property's outline zoning plan for maximum floor space could not be enforced because the property existed before the plan was enacted, while the old land lease, dating to 1930, did not specify how much floor space was allowed.

'There remains only one law capable [of] holding the property owner responsible. That's through enforcement on unauthorised building works under the Buildings Ordinance,' he said.

Legislator Cyd Ho Sau-lan said the Buildings Department should not let Kuo walk away after fixing the building irregularities. 'Given the seriousness of the illegal works, a direct prosecution should be seriously considered,' she said.

Home drama

May 2002

On-Power Limited - a company registered in the British Virgin Islands with Henry Tang and his wife Lisa Kuo listed as directors - buys 7 York Road, Kowloon Tong.

Nov 2002

Henry Ho Chung-yi, architect for Tang, submits building plan for redevelopment.

2006/2007

Redevelopment completed and occupation permit issued by Buildings Department.

June 2010

Tang transfers stake in On-Power to his wife, making her sole owner of the company, land lot and house.

May 2011

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen asks senior officials to check properties for illegal structures.

May to end 2011

Tang says he hired consultant to inspect No 5A and 7 York Road for unapproved work. But he was not required to report back to Tsang.

October 2011

Ming Pao files questions to Tang about illegal structures; Tang denies existence of wine cellar in No 5A.

February 13, 2012

Tang admits illegal structures in his properties, saying basement garage was extended to store groceries.

February 14

Buildings officers try in vain to enter properties for inspection.