HK$350,000 ‘in actual notes’ deposited in Donald Tsang’s wife’s account, prosecution reveals
Money was withdrawn half an hour before from Bank of East Asia chairman David Li’s account, court hears
A HK$350,000 bundle of cash withdrawn from the account of Bank of East Asia chairman David Li Kwok-po formed part of a larger payment in yuan that a former Hong Kong leader made to a media boss he is accused of accepting an advantage from, a jury heard on Thursday.
Prosecutors told the High Court HK$350,000 was withdrawn from the account bank chief Li, a former executive councillor, 35 minutes before the same amount – in cash – was deposited in the account of ex-chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen by Tsang’s wife, Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei .
During Tsang’s trial on charges of misconduct in public office and accepting an advantage as chief executive – all of which he denies – prosecuting David Perry QC also described a 2012 tenancy agreement for the luxury Shenzhen property at the centre of the trial as a “smoke screen’’.
Perry told the court the money was withdrawn from Li’s account at the Central branch of the bank at 9.20am on July 16, 2010.
“As a matter of pure common sense and ordinary inference, the prosecution say there’s a clear connection,” Perry said.
“It takes a bit of time to count that sort of money, HK$350,000 in cash.”
The amount was part of the 800,000 yuan (HK$895,000), Tsang and his wife allegedly paid in November the same year to a Hong Kong company – the majority shareholder of which was
media boss Bill Wong Cho-bau.
Tsang, 72, is accused of failing to disclose his ties with Wong and a Shenzhen property owned by Wong’s mainland company, which Tsang planned to make his temporary retirement home after stepping down as leader in 2012.
It was alleged that between 2010 and 2012, the former chief executive failed to make known to the Executive Council his relationship with Wong, when the council was tasked with granting the licence applications by Wave Media, of which Wong was the major shareholder.
Perry also alleged Tsang, through various bank accounts, moved HK$1 million into the same Bank of East Asia joint account beginning in July 2010.
Between July and September that year, there were 36 occasions where Hong Kong dollars was turned into Chinese yuan, before a sum of 800,000 yuan was eventually paid to Wong’s East Pacific Holdings in November.
On Thursday, Perry also attacked a set of 2012 tenancy documents, including a lease signed on February 21 that year, saying that they were a “smoke screen”.
The prosecutor had argued earlier that while Tsang’s interest in the property appeared to date all the way back to 2010 – the year the digital audio broadcasting licence in question was granted – most of these documents did not surface until the media and public glare fell on his private life in February 2012.
The prosecutor told the jury that a mistake on the lease for the property, in which 800,000 yuan was mistaken for 8 million was because the document had been prepared “in haste and panic’’.
A supplementary agreement also stated that the amount covered “basic decoration”, Perry said.
“You have to decide if what we’ve seen ... was basic decoration,” Perry told the jury, two days after they were told the design of the flat supposedly contained a range of facilities including a library, a greenhouse and a calligraphy room.
The trial continues on Friday before Mr Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai.
Additional reporting by Julia Hollingsworth