Kwok brothers and Hui back in court for day 2 of graft trial

Real estate tycoons and ex-chief secretary in dock at start of city's most high-profile corruption trial

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 May, 2014, 2:40pm
UPDATED : Friday, 09 May, 2014, 6:06pm

The five defendants in Hong Kong's high-profile graft case arrived in court for a second day today, to listen to a series of legal arguments ahead of the swearing in of the jury.

Heavy rain that lashed Hong Kong overnight did affect the court's prompt 10am start.

Proceedings ahead of jury selection cannot be reported for legal reasons.

Yesterday real estate tycoons Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, co-chairmen of Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP), along with former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan, denied all allegations of bribery.

Hui is accused of receiving HK$34 million in cash, loans and other inducements between 2000 and 2009.

Scores of reporters from Hong Kong and international media descended on the Court of First Instance to witness the opening of the case. But much of the day was taken up with procedural legal argument that could not be reported.

Watch: Hong Kong property moguls go to trial in huge graft case

Hui, 66, faces eight charges related to bribery and misconduct in public office.

Thomas Kwok, 62, faces one charge of conspiracy to offer an advantage to Hui and two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

Raymond Kwok, 61, faces four charges, including one count of furnishing false information with Hui.

Co-defendants Thomas Chan Kui-yuen, executive director of SHKP, and former Hong Kong stock exchange official Francis Kwan Hung-sang each face two charges.

The not guilty pleas confirm that Hui will become the first former chief secretary - or No 2 - in the Hong Kong government to face trial.

He stood accused of receiving financial inducements that included HK$28.8 million in cash, HK$5.4 million in loans and the rent-free use of two flats at Leighton Hill in Happy Valley between 2000 and 2009.

During that period he served as managing director of the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority, then chief secretary and then as an appointed member of the Executive Council.

Other discussions on the first day of the trial cannot be reported, to avoid influencing future jury members.

The judge, Mr Justice Andrew Macrae, warned the media to "show restraint" and to avoid reporting prejudicial information at the risk of facing a charge of contempt of court.

Arriving separately at the High Court in Admiralty yesterday morning, Thomas Kwok stopped to wave and smile for the cameras and television crews, while his younger brother Raymond Kwok flashed a smile.

Hui shook hands and had short conversations with several reporters.

Inside court Hui and the Kwoks were seated on the front row of the dock, while the other two defendants sat behind.

Just 15 seats inside the court were allocated to reporters, who began arriving as early as 5am to secure the best spots.

The judiciary's administrative staff were criticised for allowing only one reporter from each media group to get into the court.

They explained that the hearing needed to take place at that particular court, Court No7.

This was because it had the technical facilities to allow for a simultaneous broadcast of proceedings on a screen in another room, where dozens of seats were provided.

Prominent British lawyers attended the court for both prosecution and defence sides.

Both Kwoks, as well as the government, have hired Queen's counsels as part of their teams.

Thomas Kwok is represented by Clare Montgomery QC and local barrister Lawrence Lok SC, and Raymond Kwok by John Kelsey-Fry QC and Gerard McCoy SC. Representing Chan is Ian Winter QC.

Hui is represented by local barrister Edwin Choy Wai-bond. Kwan's counsel is Charles Chan.

The prosecution team includes David Perry QC and local senior counsel Joseph Tse Wah-yuen.