Television Broadcasts (TVB)

District Court judge will reconsider his verdict in TVB bribery case

Appeal court agrees that District Court erred in law when acquitting Stephen Chan

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 4:30am

The bribery case against former TVB general manager Stephen Chan Chi-wan and his former assistant has been sent back to the District Court judge who acquitted them after prosecutors won an appeal yesterday.

The Court of Appeal ruled that Acting Chief District Judge Poon Siu-tung erred in law in acquitting Chan and Edthancy Tseng Pei-kun last year.

The case is now sent back to District Court for Poon to reconsider his original verdict in light of the appeal court's judgment. Chan and Tseng will appear on December 18 for a direction hearing.

Chan and Tseng were each released on HK$100,000 bail. They must inform the Independent Commission Against Corruption 24 hours in advance if they plan to leave Hong Kong, providing information about their itinerary and their departure and return dates.

The development came after the Department of Justice appealed against the acquittals earlier this month.

The appeal court directed that the district court judge should now decide whether he would exercise his discretion to consider whether the two had a reasonable excuse to defend themselves against the charges.

And if the judge decides he would exercise his discretion, he should set out the facts relating to the defence and make a verdict on whether the reasonable excuse was valid, the appeal court ordered. The appeal court quashed an order that the government pay the legal costs to the pair. The department earlier retracted a request that the court find the two guilty of corruption if the appeal against their acquittals was allowed.

In September last year Chan went on trial for receiving HK$112,000 from Olympian City in 2010 behind his employer's back for one performance of the live talk show Be My Guest, which was held at the mall and produced and broadcast by TVB.

While he had made more than 150 episodes free of charge for the station, this time Chan was paid through a company run by Tseng.

Poon acquitted Chan, ruling that he was acting as a celebrity or an artist, not as an agent of TVB in hosting the show.

The appeal court ruled yesterday that Poon was wrong in taking into account in what capacity Chan was acting.

To prove a particular element of a charge under section 9 of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, it was enough to prove that Chan's act was "in relation to [TVB's] business" and his state of mind at the time of the alleged offence was not relevant, the appeal court said.

The question now is whether the trial judge will still acquit Chan on the grounds he had reasonable excuse.