Donald Tsang’s luxury retirement home plans revealed in trial
Prosecutor asks why meetings and work stopped after details of the Shenzhen property came to light
A library, a green house and a calligraphy room were among a list of luxuries planned for the three-storey Shenzhen property former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen intended to occupy, the court heard yesterday at his misconduct and corruption trial.
Prosecutor David Perry QC also alleged that Tsang’s wife had been meeting a “well-known” interior designer at the centre of the trial on a regular basis before and after the designer was awarded an official honour in 2011.
Tsang, 72, has denied allegations of misconduct between 2010 and 2011 by nominating interior designer Barrie Ho Chow-lai for a medal of honour, while failing to disclose Ho was at the time engaged in the refurbishment of the Shenzhen property.
Tsang had intended to use the luxury home, which had an area of more than 6,000 sq ft, as a retirement nest.
He pleads not guilty to three charges, including two counts of misconduct in public office, at the High Court.
In his opening remarks yesterday, prosecutor David Perry QC presented the jury with the penthouse’s floor plans, which showed designs of lounges, a landscape garden, a tea room, and a gym.
He also said Tsang’s wife Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei met with Ho numerous times at various locations – from the mainland to Government House – before and after Ho won a medal of honour on July 1 in 2011. The meetings, Perry said, included a trip to Shenzhen with a feng shui master.
But according to the prosecutor, after the matter was uncovered by the press in February, 2012, both the work and meetings between Ho and Tsang’s wife were suspended.
He asked the jury of nine: “If you are engaged legitimately and honestly in refurbishing a property for your own occupation, and it comes to light in the press, why does the work stop? Why do the meetings stop?”
He added that the defendant “tried to distance himself from it” and gave an untruthful account.
Instead of making a disclosure while nominating Ho, the prosecutor said, Tsang claimed Ho made contributions to society and had designed a building in North Point which he “liked” after visiting it in 2009.
Perry accused Tsang of abusing the city’s honours and award system by failing to disclose “the true nature of their relationship” to the relevant parties – then permanent secretary for the chief executive’s office, the Development Bureau and the Honours and Non-official Justices of the Peace Selection Committee.
Another charge Tsang has denied – accepting an advantage as the chief executive – accuses him of receiving a free refurbishment and redecoration service between 2010 and 2012. In return, he allegedly granted the licensing applications lodged by Wave Media and its request to appoint Arthur Li Kwok-cheung as a director.
The prosecutor alleged yesterday that the refurbishment was fully paid for by a company held by Bill Wong Cho-bau, a director of Wave Media which was later renamed Digital Broadcasting Corp.
He also told the jury that Ho’s fee of HK$350,000 was paid for by East Pacific Holdings, a company of which Wong was a major shareholder.
The case continues today before Mr Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai.