Walter Kwok accused SHKP employees of bribery in 2003, court told
Two SHKP subordinates came under attack in 2003 by their then chairman, who had become distrustful after kidnap ordeal, trial hears
Tycoon Walter Kwok Ping-sheung accused a staff member at Sun Hung Kai Properties of taking bribes in a memo he wrote to one of his brothers, Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong, the High Court heard yesterday.
The city's highest-profile corruption trial - involving Thomas Kwok and a second brother, Raymond Kwok Ping-luen - heard further testimony of how the then SHKP chairman grew suspicious of colleagues after he was kidnapped for a week in 1997.
In 2003, he cast doubt on two employees after being "depressed" and "less interested in business" ever since his abduction, according to Thomas Kwok's lawyer Clare Montgomery QC.
Thomas and Raymond Kwok, the current SHKP co-chairmen, are on trial for allegedly giving former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan tens of millions of dollars for him to be the firm's "eyes and ears" in the government. Eldest brother Walter Kwok, who ceased to be SHKP chairman in 2008, is not a party in the case.
Montgomery asked prosecution witness Michael Wong Yick-kam, a former SHKP executive director, whether Walter Kwok was difficult to deal with, "in the sense of being sometimes angry and sometimes suspicious of people", when, following his ordeal, he began getting involved in the business again.
Wong replied: "It did happen." But he expressed surprise on seeing Walter Kwok's note alleging press relations officer May Lau took bribes from a man who was said to be taking advantage of the company. Kwok also named another woman, Winnie.
Thomas Kwok, in a written reply to Walter Kwok, called Lau a "very good" colleague. Wong testified: "Now I'm reading these two memos, I'm quite surprised. I was not aware that he attacked May Lau in such a way.
"Both May Lau and Winnie were very loyal to the company and their work performance was very good. So I have 100 per cent confidence in their integrity."
The court earlier heard Walter Kwok had made "false accusations" against company executives after his kidnap ordeal.
Wong agreed with Montgomery that Walter Kwok began to make "some very rash investment decisions" from mid-2007. He said he realised in early 2008 that his boss was mentally ill.
When questioned by the prosecution, Wong denied knowing at the time that Hui was a consultant to SHKP. When cross-examined by Hui's lawyer, he said: "It is possible that I have recalled wrongly".
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.