Jimmy Lai

Jimmy Lai

Lawmakers To and Mo given HK$500,000 each by Jimmy Lai, leaked emails suggest

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 August, 2014, 4:29am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 August, 2014, 5:32pm

Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying gave HK$500,000 each to two pan-democratic lawmakers via his close aide Mark Simon according to more leaked emails - flatly contradicting their repeated denials.

Simon said his private email accounts had been repeatedly hacked, and that the culprits were trying to obstruct the democracy movement by destroying individual freedom and security.

More than 900 leaked files - which first emerged two weeks ago suggesting the media mogul donated millions to pan-democratic parties and individuals - have stirred a political storm.

Five lawmakers, who allegedly failed to declare such financial interests to the legislature, have been asked to provide an explanation to a Legislative Council committee by next week before it decides whether to investigate.

But the latest leaked emails suggest that money was donated to the Civic Party's Claudia Mo Man-ching and Democrat James To Kun-sun - the only two legislators who have repeatedly denied receiving funds.

An email dated May 2012 sent by the media mogul's secretary to Royston Chow Tat-kuen, deputy chief financial officer of Apple Daily publisher Next Media, suggested Lai's top aide, Mark Simon, had in April that year sent HK$500,000 each to Mo, ex-lawmaker Tanya Chan and To "to cover special project[s]".

In another email, dated August 2012, Lai also asked Simon to arrange HK$200,000 for Chan. None of the three pan-democrats allegedly declared the donations to the legislature or as part of their election expenses when they ran for Legco in 2012.

None of the latest emails offered any concrete proof, such as receipts or bank statements. 

Yesterday Chan denied receiving the donation. And both To and Mo reiterated they had never received money from Lai. To described the leaked emails as "multiple hearsay" and a smear campaign.

Simon told Apple Daily that he had no comment on the emails, but did say that he would generally refer to the annual June 4 memorial vigil as a "special project".

Simon acknowledged that his private email accounts had been repeatedly hacked into, and said the culprits were trying to obstruct the democracy movement by destroying individual freedom and security. 

He will decide whether to report the case to police after discussions with the Next Media Group on Tuesday.  

Beijing loyalist Wong Kwok-hing, of the Federation of Trade Unions, said the emails proved To and Mo had been "lying repeatedly".

Meanwhile, Lai also allegedly sponsored former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang, whose pro-democracy think tank Hong Kong 2020 is advocating electoral reform.

Emails between Chow and Lai suggest the latter had donated HK$500,000 to Chan for "office renovation" and another HK$3 million for a "special project".

Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun is also alleged to have received a total of HK$6 million in 2012 and 2013, according to the emails, and Democratic Party founding chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming received HK$300,000 last year.

Lee said he was borrowing the money on behalf of another pan-democrat.