Pan-democrat lawmakers could face probe over donations from media mogul Jimmy Lai
Pro-Beijing group calls on Legco to investigate millions of dollars given to five lawmakers
Five pro-democracy lawmakers accused of secretly accepting millions of dollars in donations from media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying may face official investigations.
This follows leaks of about 900 confidential files concerning business and personal affairs of the Apple Daily founder as well as his political donations. The leak has been slammed by pan-democrats as a smear campaign.
A Beijing-loyalist group yesterday asked Legco's committee on members' interests to look into the matter.
A member of a "lawmaker integrity" concern group said it had filed a report to the Inland Revenue Department and would hand another to the Independent Commission Against Corruption over donations of more than HK$10 million that Lai allegedly paid to pan-democratic parties and lawmakers.
"An inquiry by the Legco committee, we believe, could help clarify whether the lawmakers' non-disclosure constituted any conflict of interests," said Wong Kwok-kin, of the Federation of Trade Unions.
Legco rules require lawmakers to disclose "material benefits" from a single source where the total value exceeds 5 per cent of their annual remuneration, or one-off benefits over HK$10,000. As there is no political party law, there are no rules covering donations to groups.
Two of the lawmakers - the Civic Party's Claudia Mo Man-ching and the Democratic Party's James To Kun-sun - rejected claims they had received donations that were made in an e-mail sent from an unknown source to media this week.
But their stance seemed to contradict Lai's remarks on Apple's online talk show Hammer Out on Tuesday when he apparently agreed that he paid them "for electioneering".
Radical "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung and the Civic Party's Alan Leong Kah-kit - shown to have received HK$500,000 and HK$300,000 respectively - have said they did so on behalf of two pan-democratic groups.
The Labour Party's Lee Cheuk-yan, shown to have been paid HK$500,000 last year, was overseas and could not be reached for comment. None of the lawmakers disclosed the sums as required by Legco rules.
Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said relevant matters would be handled by the members' interests committee of which she was vice-chairwoman. She added the reports seemed to be smear tactics.
An Inland Revenue spokeswoman declined to say if the lawmakers had committed any offence.
Pro-government protesters condemned Lai at Apple Daily's headquarters yesterday.
Additional reporting by Brian Yap and Emily Tsang