Donald Tsang was a greedy leader who exploited office for personal gain, Hong Kong High Court told
Prosecution sums up its case as defence reveals former chief executive will not be taking the stand in his corruption trial
The prosecution in former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang Yam-kuen’s corruption and misconduct trial yesterday painted him as a “two-faced”, “greedy” leader who exploited his office for personal gain using “secrecy, concealment and disguise”.
With the defence informing the High Court the former chief executive would not be taking the stand and no evidence would be called on his behalf, the prosecution began its final submission by portrayed Tsang as a manipulative man who had intentionally abused his public position as the head of government.
“It is a story of greed,” prosecutor David Perry QC said. “It is an abuse of a public position – the most privileged position you could have in Hong Kong.”
Tsang, 72, has denied two counts of misconduct in public office and one of a chief executive accepting an advantage between 2010 and 2012.
He is accused of deliberately concealing his dealings with businessman Bill Wong Cho-bau over a three-storey Shenzhen penthouse which he planned to rent after retiring as the city’s chief executive.
The penthouse is owned by one of Wong’s companies, and its refurbishment for Tsang and his wife was all paid for by the businessman’s firms.
Tsang is accused of failing to disclose to his cabinet members on the Executive Council his ties with Wong, when Exco approved a string of applications, including a digital audio broadcasting licence in 2011, by Wong’s radio station Wave Media.
He is also accused of abusing the city’s honours and awards system and turning it into his “personal playground” by recommending his interior designer, Barrie Ho Chow-lai, for an award without disclosing to relevant government bodies that Ho was working privately for him.
In his final speech, prosecutor Perry slammed Tsang as a man with two faces: the public, church-going persona with high standards of integrity – which he projected publicly in media interviews; and a private face which concealed his “secret dealings with rich businessmen” and his exploitation of his office for personal gain.
“If you are a rich businessman, it can do no harm to have a friend at the very top of the government,” he added.
Anticipating that the defence might project their client as a victim of coincidences and conspiracy theories that happened to be incriminating, Perry argued that did not match the “unfortunate combinations of events”.
They included Ho being introduced to Tsang’s design job by Albert Cheng King-hon, “another director of Wave Media”, the prosecutor said.
It so happened, he added, that Ho took up the project around the time Tsang put his name forward for the award nomination in 2011. Yet their relationship was never revealed to the public and Tsang’s colleagues – instead, Tsang cited Ho’s contribution for a youth centre as a disguise, the court heard.
The prosecutor also cited another “terrible coincidence”: on a July morning in 2010, Bank of East Asia chairman David Li Kwok-po withdrew from a BEA account HK$350,000, the same amount Tsang’s wife,Selina Pou Siu-mei, deposited in her and Tsang’s joint account at the same branch 35 minutes later. Li was also a shareholder of Wave Media.
“People do that in the real world to disguise the source of fund so that people can’t trace it. But in this case the [Independent Commission Against Corruption] did,” the prosecutor said.
Perry continues his final speech before Mr Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai today.
It will be the defence’s turn to make a final submission next, before the nine-member jury is sent out to deliberate next week.