Legco confirms it will investigate ex-ICAC boss' spending

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 April, 2013, 2:39pm
UPDATED : Friday, 26 April, 2013, 3:56pm

The Legislative Council’s public accounts committee will hold a hearing on former Independent Commission Against Corruption chief Timothy Tong Hin-ming's spending habits while he was in office.

The decision to hold the hearing was made during a closed-door meeting on Friday morning between the committee and the Audit Commission.

It comes after allegations that Tong used public money to treat officials from the mainland’s liaison office to lavish banquets.

Abraham Shek Lai-him, chairman of the Legco committee, said the inquiry would follow findings that two dinners hosted by the ICAC in December 2011 for an international anti-bribery event had exceeded the permitted budget.

Committee member Alan Leong Kah-kit said they would now draft a list of questions to the ICAC concerning Tong’s expenses.

“We do not rule out inviting Tong to a public inquiry to explain how he used the public funds,” Leong said.

A report released by the Audit Commission last week revealed that the cost of a dinner hosted by then-commissioner Tong to entertain 110 international guests on December 8 that year was HK$1,045 per head, more than twice the official HK$450 ceiling.

However, an assistant director approved the cost as publicity expenditure instead of entertainment expenses.

Director of Audit David Sun Tak-kei said the case exposed a grey area in the ICAC’s guidelines on entertainment expenses.

The audit commission also found that Tong spent more than HK$154,000 on gifts for mainland officials, and HK$757,921 on 34 duty trips, 19 of them to the mainland.

Ming Pao Daily reported that Tong hosted banquets with the mainland’s liaison officials at least 20 times during his five-year tenure.

As well, the Democratic Party's Lam Cheuk-ting, who was an investigator for the Independent Commission Against Corruption when Tong was in charge, sent a written complaint to the ICAC on Thursday about Tong's alleged misconduct and possible breaches of bribery laws. Other pan-democrat lawmakers plan to submit complaints on Friday as well.

Tong was appointed to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the nation's top consultative body, in February, after stepping down as ICAC commissioner last year.