Walter Kwok 'threatened' SHKP director over ICC lease, court told

Executive says Kwok's threatening letters and criticism in front of colleagues were disturbing

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 July, 2014, 4:38am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 July, 2014, 7:31am

An executive director of Sun Hung Kai Properties told a high-level corruption trial about his "disturbing" experience of being warned years ago by his boss, Walter Kwok Ping-sheung, over a lease agreement he had reached with a bank.

Kwok, then SHKP chairman, sent "threatening letters" to Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency executive director Victor Lui Ting because he disagreed with Lui's leasing of a large part of SHKP development International Commerce Centre to Credit Suisse, the High Court heard. Kwok was the only board member against the deal, saying he could find a better tenant at a higher rent.

Lui was testifying in the trial of former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan, who is accused of having taken tens of millions of dollars from SHKP co-chairmen Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen to be the developer's "eyes and ears" in the government.

Lui revealed his friction with the Kwok defendants' elder brother, Walter Kwok, after a lawyer for Thomas Kwok asked if he knew the two siblings disagreed over SHKP's business in 2003.

Clare Montgomery QC said the pair had a dispute over rental arrangements at the IFC and ICC. Lui said he could not recall matters related to the IFC leasing. But he confirmed Walter Kwok had "attacked" him in front of his colleagues over the ICC deal. Prosecutors said at the start of the hearings that the incident was in 2007.

When asked about his impression of the disagreement, Lui said: "It was disturbing. I felt that his objection was irrational." The row was resolved soon after the Kwok brothers' mother, Kwong Siu-hing, intervened. Kwong, a board member, expressed willingness in a letter dated January 6, 2008, to accept the ICC deal, which the board approved on January 17, the court heard. Walter Kwok took leave from work the following month and was replaced by his mother as chairman on May 27 that year.

Lui was also asked about two rent-free Happy Valley flats Hui lived in from February 2003.

Lead prosecutor David Perry QC said the leases began in April 2003, according to the first tenancy agreement, but a document signed by Lui and submitted to the Commissioner of Rating and Valuation stated the flats were first occupied in April 2004.

Lui said he did not know why that was the case.

It was "not usual" for SHKP executive director Thomas Chan Kui-yuen, a co-defendant, to get involved in the tenancy details of the two flats, Iris Chiu Ching-shi, former managing director of an SHKP subsidiary, said.

Chiu said she saw Chan as "a director of a similar position to that of the three Kwok brothers".

Chan and Chiu had a teleconference with lawyers over new tenancy agreements for the flats, days before Hui became chief secretary on June 30, 2005.

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. Chan, 67, and former Hong Kong stock exchange official Francis Kwan Hung-sang, 63, each face two charges. All have pleaded not guilty.