Thomas Kwok considered hiring 'Norman Chan' as a consultant, trial hears

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 August, 2014, 4:45pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 August, 2014, 8:50am

Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong once considered hiring a Norman Chan as a consultant to Sun Hung Kai Properties, the city's highest-profile corruption trial heard yesterday.

But Chan would have cost as much as SHKP received each year in rent from the 41-storey Hong Kong Plaza skyscraper on Connaught Road West, his brother Walter Kwok Ping-sheung protested in a 2002 note shown to the High Court. Walter insisted Rafael Hui Si-yan get the job.

Walter Kwok, SHKP chairman at the time, wrote in the note that he could not "see the purpose and use" of hiring Chan, and asked Thomas: "Is it worth it?" He favoured appointing Hui, whom he called a "strategic thinker" who can "contribute to us". SHKP hired Hui the next year.

Clare Montgomery QC, representing Thomas Kwok, said the note showed "a debate between Walter and Thomas on the possibility of recruiting somebody from the public government sector to work for Sun Hung Kai".

Hui, who served as chief secretary from 2005 to 2007, is on trial for allegedly taking tens of millions of dollars from Thomas Kwok, now SHKP's co-chairman, and his other brother and co-chairman, Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, to be SHKP's "eyes and ears" in government.

According to Walter Kwok's note, hiring Chan would have cost the equivalent of twice the annual rental income from Kai Tak Mansion, Kowloon Bay, four months' rental income from Metroplaza, Kwai Chung, or three months' rent from Tsim Sha Tsui's Royal Garden Hotel shopping centre. The court earlier heard Hui wanted HK$375,000 per month as a consultant.

Montgomery showed the note to Ng Kit-yin, Walter Kwok's secretary between 1988 and 2011. Ng would only say some of the handwriting was Walter Kwok's.

The court had earlier been told of a disagreement between Walter and Thomas Kwok over how much to pay Hui. It had also heard of a 2005 diary entry by Raymond Kwok, in which he recalled calling Hui about people named Norman Chan and Joseph Yam.

Montgomery asked Ng if she remembered Walter Kwok having to go to San Francisco urgently for surgery in 2003. Ng answered no, adding that his need for an operation was identified during one of his annual check-ups in the United States.

Montgomery then asked if Walter Kwok changed his mind about hiring a consultant after returning from San Francisco, but Ng said no.

"Was he a man who was capable of changing his mind about a decision for apparently no reason?" asked Montgomery.

"In fact, at all times he was such a person," Ng replied, to laughter from the gallery.

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 ex-Hong Kong stock exchange official Francis Kwan Hung-sang, 63, each face two charges.

All have pleaded not guilty. The trial continues today before Mr Justice Andrew Macrae.