Criminal case against former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang begins
Allegations of misconduct in public office and accepting an advantage finally due to be heard in High Court
The Court of First Instance – located just a kilometre from the office where Tsang served as the city’s leader between 2005 and 2012 – is to hear accusations centring on a majority shareholder of a digital radio station, an interior designer and a three-storey rental penthouse over the border in Shenzhen.
Appearing calm, the former chief executive turned up at the High Court in Admiralty at about 8.15am Tuesday, more than an hour before his trial was to start.
Wearing a chequered black bow tie, he held the hand of his wife, Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei, as he entered the court building.
Tsang, 72, faces three charges – two counts of misconduct in public office and one of a chief executive accepting an advantage – stemming from events between 2010 and 2012.
He has not yet had to enter a plea for any of the charges, dating back to when he was first brought to court in August 2015, each of which carries a maximum jail sentence of seven years.
The first charge alleges that Tsang, as chief executive and presiding over the Executive Council, engaged in wilful misconduct by failing to disclose and conceal his dealings with businessman Bill Wong Cho-bau over the penthouse on the mainland. Wong was a major shareholder of radio station Wave Media, later renamed Digital Broadcasting Corp, or DBC.
Tsang allegedly “approved in principle and formally granted” applications by Wong’s company for a digital broadcasting licence, the surrender of its AM radio licence and the appointment of Professor Arthur Li Kwok-cheung as DBC director and board chairman without disclosing his dealings with Wong to Exco.
The second charge alleges that Tsang recommended interior designer Barrie Ho Chow-lai for nomination under the city’s honours and awards system between December 2010 and July 2011.
Tsang was said to have failed to inform the permanent secretary of the Chief Executive’s Office, the Development Bureau and the Honours and Non-official Justices of the Peace Selection Committee that Ho had been tasked with designing the Shenzhen penthouse and that the work was being done for his benefit.
The corruption charge, under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, accuses Tsang of accepting an advantage – namely refurbishment and redecoration of the penthouse – as an inducement or reward to perform an act as chief executive.
The case is scheduled to be heard for 20 days.