Rafael Hui charged SHKP HK$4m in consultancy fees inclusive of months as chief secretary, court told

Invoice sent to developers requested payment months in advance, during which period Rafael Hui was to take office as chief secretary

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 August, 2014, 10:08pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 August, 2014, 2:54pm

Rafael Hui Si-yan claimed HK$4 million in consultancy fees from Sun Hung Kai Properties covering a period that would extend into his first year as Hong Kong's No 2 official, the city's highest-profile corruption trial heard.

Hui issued an invoice to SHKP in April 2005 - ahead of his chief secretary posting in July that year - charging the property giant for future consultancy services between that month and February 2006, the High Court heard.

That was despite Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, then SHKP vice-chairman and now co-chairman, having decided to end Hui's contract by March 2005. The court earlier heard Hui was hired as a consultant in March 2004.

Kwok eventually paid the HK$4.125 million Hui sought, in what a senior SHKP executive described in his court testimony as "a bonus" - something that the publicly listed company would treat as a "confidential" matter.

Hui allegedly took tens of millions of dollars, including this sum, from Raymond Kwok and SHKP co-chairman Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong to be their "eyes and ears" in the government. Yesterday, lead prosecutor David Perry QC asked prosecution witness Tang Chak-hin, head of SHKP's internal affairs, if he thought Hui was entitled to the money.

Tang replied: "I doubted … it." He said he believed that all the firm needed to do was to pay Hui up to the end of March 2005.

He forwarded Hui's invoice to Raymond Kwok, his superior, for instructions. A day or two later, Kwok summoned Tang to his room. Kwok, he recalled, paused for a few seconds before saying: "Mr Hui had been performing quite well when he was helping us." Kwok declared his decision to make the payment, which Tang said he believed was of the nature of a bonus. Perry asked why no mention of this nature was made on SHKP's cheque and payment voucher to Hui.

Tang said the whole payment was prepared within a short time. He added: "[A] bonus is something confidential; we do not say what bonus has been paid to which person within the company … Of course we would try not to let other people know about it."

Tang went on to take the blame for records stating the payment was about consultancy fees instead of a bonus. "In hindsight, I made a mistake; I did not ask my colleague or colleagues to correct it."

Under cross-examination, Tang viewed the remuneration records of defendant and SHKP executive director Thomas Chan Kui-yuen dating back to 1990.

Tang confirmed that SHKP rewarded employees with commissions and special bonuses.

The records showed such decisions were written down in memos by then chairman Walter Kwok Ping-sheung to the company's payroll master. Chan took HK$9.7 million in commission fees and HK$9.9 million in bonuses for 1997/98, but got no bonus for 2003/04 because the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome hit the economy.

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.