Development minister Paul Chan may face police inquiry over land deal

Activists file complaints with five authorities including police, which says it will ‘follow up’

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 September, 2013, 4:07am

The development minister may face a police investigation after all, more than a month after a media exposé forced him to admit his family's land stakes fell within planned new towns in the northeastern New Territories.

Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po and his family warranted checks in at least two areas that appeared suspicious, radical pro-democracy group People Power activists told five government bodies yesterday.

Former radio host Tam Tak-chi and former lawmaker Mandy Tam Heung-man have lodged complaints with the police, Independent Commission Against Corruption, Companies Registry, Inland Revenue Department and Official Receiver's Office - which administers bankruptcy cases.

Tam said the police's commercial crime bureau had agreed to launch an inquiry. "They have received the documents we provided and said they will study them, and given us the reference number for the case," he said.

A police spokeswoman confirmed they had listed the case for the bureau to follow up. Chan's office could not be reached for comment yesterday.

In July, Chan's family was found to own farmland in Kwu Tung North just as the Development Bureau planned to turn the area into a new town.

Their land was to be zoned for public housing and, if resumed by the government, was estimated to be worth more than HK$17 million.

The two Tams base their complaints on Statement Industries, a company that had Chan's accountancy firm and his wife Frieda Hui Po-ming as directors from 1994 until the last two years.

According to the registry, the Chans declared it dormant in 1994. It became active again only in June, through the application of company chairman Hui Ka-lun, Paul Chan's brother-in-law.

After the scandal broke, a farmer produced a rental receipt bearing Chan's signature. He said Chan leased him a plot of land in Kwu Tung through Statement Industries in 1996 - while the company was dormant.

People Power says the police, registry and graft-buster should look into whether Chan was in breach of the Companies Ordinance and made a false declaration in 1994, while the taxman should check if he had ever declared the rental income.

They also asked the Official Receiver to look into how Hui Ka-lun could have raised HK$5 million last year to buy his sister's shares in Statement Industries and another company, Harvest Charm Development, as he was bankrupt from 2002 to 2006.

A Statement Industries spokesman said the company did not plan to rent land in 1994 and so declared it dormant.