Rafael Hui’s rent-free Happy Valley flat meant for investment, court told

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 July, 2014, 10:46pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 July, 2014, 4:39pm

One of two Happy Valley flats that became rent-free homes for former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan was bought by the Kwoks of Sun Hung Kai Properties in 2002 for "long-term investment", the High Court heard yesterday.

Flat 20A, Tower 6, The Leighton Hill came under the ownership of one of the Kwok family's private firms, Meritech, for more than HK$17 million in November 2002, a high-level corruption trial involving Hui was told.

As for the adjoining home, flat 20B, another private firm of the Kwoks paid 25 months of rent arrears totalling HK$1.375 million in one go, at the time Hui was living there, the court heard.

Hui moved into both flats in February 2003, the court heard earlier. He allegedly took 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.

Flat 20A was purchased as an investment in November 2002. But HK$660,000 in rents between April 1, 2003, and March 31, 2004, went unpaid, said prosecution witness Andrew Chow Chi-lap, former accounting manager at a third private firm of the Kwoks.

Chow said he had written off the arrears based on an order. "Firstly, we in fact did not receive the rent," he said. "Secondly, I received an instruction saying we could write off the rent." He said the instruction came from his superior, who would not have the authority to order the write-off.

Lead prosecutor David Perry QC asked who had the authority, and Chow replied it was possibly "one of the three Kwok brothers".

Chow also agreed with auditors' documents that showed no rent was received from April 1, 2004, to March 31, 2005, for 20A.

Perry asked who ultimately bore the liability for the rent owed within that year. Chow said: "Two Mr Kwoks."

Rent for flat 20B accumulated from April 2003 to April 2005 was paid via an April 11, 2005, cheque from the Kwoks' firm Lai Cheong, said Helen Chan Ting-yuk, an accountant for an SHKP subsidiary.

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.