Assistant highways director Tsang King-man and former development minister Mak Chai-kwong swapped their North Point flats in 1990 because Tsang did not want to sell a property which had a tenancy agreement, a court heard on Tuesday.
Tsang, who is being tried over a housing subsidy fraud, explained this to the Independent Commission Against Corruption in a video interview played on the seventh day of the trial in District Court.
Tsang, 57, and Mak, 62, are accused of defrauding the government of HK$700,000 in housing allowances by using two properties in which they had a financial interest. Mak also faces two counts, and Tsang three counts, of using documents with intent to deceive the government. They have denied the charges.
Tsang said when he wanted to sell the flat, 22E, in 1990 but it was occupied by a tenant.
“A potential buyer knew that flat 22E carried a tenancy agreement...so he declined to offer a good price,” he said.
Tsang said the buyer asked whether he could show him a similar flat instead, he, therefore, took him to flat 21E which he leased from Mak.
Tsang said the buyer found flat 21E suitable so he suggested a swap with Mak.
The prosecution earlier said that the pair allegedly swapped the flats in 1990, but the ICAC found no documents to substantiate this. When they later sold the flats they were living in, they pocketed the sale proceeds.
The prosecution argues that, at all times, Mak was the true owner of 22E and Tsang the actual owner of 21E.
The trial continues.