Trial witness tells of Walter Kwok’s rent-free deal for Rafael Hui

Subordinate told not to collect money for two flats where Rafael Hui was living, jury hears

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 July, 2014, 11:33pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 July, 2014, 3:04am

A witness has for the first time told the corruption trial of former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan and two of the Kwok brothers of Sun Hung Kai Properties that their older brother was involved in arranging rent-free accommodation for Hui.

Former SHKP chairman Walter Kwok Ping-sheung instructed a subordinate in 2003 not to collect rent on the two Leighton Hill flats in Happy Valley where Hui had been living, the High Court heard.

Iris Chiu Ching-shi, a former managing director at a Sun Hung Kai Properties subsidiary, was testifying at the trial, which has heard Hui is alleged to have taken tens of millions of dollars from SHKP co-chairmen Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen to be the property giant's "eyes and ears" in the government.

Walter Kwok is not a defendant in the trial.

Chiu said Walter Kwok in November 2003 instructed her to prepare tenancy agreements for the two adjoining flats Hui had been living in.

She said Walter Kwok asked her to set the monthly rent at HK$55,000 for each flat for the period between April 1, 2003, and March 31, 2004.

When asked by lead prosecutor David Perry QC whether any rent was received, Chiu said: "No. When the tenancy commenced, no. I asked Mr Walter Kwok about it. He told me not to deal with it for the time being."

Hui was managing director of the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority from June 2000 to August 2003, the court heard earlier. He lived in the luxury flats from February 2003 and his wife had discussed the flat's layout with SHKP representatives back in 2001.

Hui became a consultant to SHKP in March 2004.

Later, the court heard, Chiu sent a memo, dated April 17, 2004, to Walter Kwok and Thomas Kwok to seek approval over rents of the flats. She typed on it "rental shall be waived and recorded as consultant fees".

Chiu said she prepared the memo at the behest of one of the three Kwok brothers but she could not remember which.

She said she understood from Walter Kwok's scribblings on the memo that the rent in relation to flat 20A, which was owned by a private Kwok family company, could be waived.

But the court heard that Walter Kwok also scribbled "no, cannot be recorded as consultant nor can it be waived". Chiu said that referred to flat 20B, which was owned by a subsidiary of SHKP, a public company.

She also confirmed that Thomas Kwok wrote "RK&TK equally", meaning rent for flat 20B would be paid by Raymond Kwok and Thomas Kwok.

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 with Hui of furnishing false information.

SHKP executive director Thomas Chan Kui-yuen, 67, and former Hong Kong stock exchange official Francis Kwan Hung-sang, 63, each face two charges.

All have pleaded not guilty. The trial continues on Monday.