Ex-TVB manager Stephen Chan back in court over graft

Money ex-TVB general manager Stephen Chan took for outside appearance would be normal if deal was brokered by agent, judge says

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 February, 2013, 7:37am


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A district court judge said an appearance by a talk show host at a countdown event at a mall would mean the host would receive payment if the arrangement had been brokered by an agency.

Chief District Judge Poon Siu-tung made the comment at a submission hearing yesterday after the Court of Appeal sent back a bribery case against Stephen Chan Chi-wan, a former TVB general manager, and his former assistant Edthancy Tseng Pei-kun to the trial judge.

The appeal court said Poon erred in law in acquitting the pair in 2011. It directed the district court judge to decide whether the two had a reasonable excuse to defend themselves against the charges.

In September 2011 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 did 159 episodes of the talk show for free for TVB, Chan was paid for the Olympian City episode through a company run by Tseng. Poon said if TVB and Olympian City had an understanding Chan was not paid for the show, why didn't TVB call him to ask him to host the show, instead of letting Olympian City contact Chan.

"The fact is that Olympian City found Chan by itself," Poon said, so the hypothesis TVB and Olympian City had a mutual understanding that Chan was not paid for the show "is unrealistic".

Chan's lawyer, Joseph Tse Wah-yuen SC, said it was understood that contacting Chan through Tseng was purely a business act and attending the show involved monetary reward.

The court heard Chan had been approved eight times to do paid jobs outside his employment previously.

In yesterday's submission, Eric Kwok Tung-ming SC, for the Independent Commission for Corruption, reiterated the prosecution's stance Chan's taking payment for the show was not allowed, although the station knew Chan had received money for the event, and it did not say no.

Kwok said the case involved secret commissions, as Chan did not tell TVB he was paid and how much he received. He said the money Chan received was, therefore, a secret commission.

He said Chan deliberately concealed that he had accepted money for the show. Chan did not inform his secretary of the assignment. Rather, she was alerted by TVB, he said. But Tse said there was no evidence Chan intentionally concealed anything.

Chan had reason to believe he had the authority to receive the money, as the evidence showed he attended the show as a celebrity rather than TVB's employee, Tse said. He also said TVB should have been aware Olympian City hired its own guests to its shopping mall shows.

The hearing continues today.