A lawyer for ex-TVB general manager Stephen Chan Chi-wan retracted an argument in court on Wednesday, after a judge warned him it was a “dangerous” justification for anyone to accept bribes.
Chan is in court this week facing an appeal by the ICAC against his acquittal in District Court last year, on corruption charges under the anti-bribery ordinance.
The case turns on Chan’s acceptance of a HK$112,000 payment from Olympian City in 2010, behind the back of his employer TVB, to perform in the live talk show Be My Guest, which was held at the mall.
Joseph Tse Wah-yuen SC, for Chan, had said on Tuesday that the celebrity’s appearance on the show was “beneficial” to TVB, which gave him a reasonable excuse to think he was justified in accepting the payment.
On Wednesday, however, Tse abandoned the argument, saying: “We … will not rely on the submission that if the act was beneficial to TVB then it is a reasonable excuse [for Chan to have received the reward].”
Tse was reacting to a warning from Mr Justice Wally Yeung Chun-kuen, in Tuesday’s session, that his suggestion was dangerous, and asking for a clarification because “people can use it as an excuse to receive [a] reward by saying that their act is beneficial to their principal”.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption is asking the Court of Appeal to reverse a District Court verdict and to find Chan, and his then assistant Edthancy Tseng Pei-kun, guilty of three charges under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance.
Acting Chief District Judge Poon Siu-tung acquitted Chan last year, ruling that he had appeared on the show as a celebrity or an artiste, not as a TVB general manager.
On Wednesday, Tse stressed that in deciding whether Chan was guilty, his state of mind at the time of accepting the reward should be considered. Because Chan did not intend to influence or affect TVB’s business, he should not be convicted, Tse said.
The appeal continues before Yeung, Mr Justice Peter Cheung Chak-yau and Madam Justice Maria Yuen Ka-ning on Wednesday afternoon.