Former TVB manager Stephen Chan wins final appeal against corruption conviction
Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal clears his name after he was convicted over accepting payment behind TV station’s back
Former TVB general manager Stephen Chan Chi-wan, who fell from grace after a corruption conviction for taking money behind his boss’ back, has been acquitted by Hong Kong’s top court.
Chan cleared his name on Tuesday after his conviction of conspiring to accept an advantage was overturned, marking the end of a six-year court battle.
In 2009, Chan, who hosted the popular Be My Guest show, received HK$160,000 from a mall – part of which was pocketed by his assistant Edthancy Tseng Pei-kun – without notifying TVB. The payment was for his appearance at a countdown programme co-produced by the station at Olympian City on December 31, 2009.
The two were originally acquitted at trial in 2011, but were later convicted when prosecutors appealed against the trial judge’s decision.
On Tuesday, the Court of Final Appeal also acquitted Tseng, a co-defendant in the case, of the same charge.
Five justices from top court – Mr Justice Roberto Ribeiro, Mr Justice Robert Tang Ching, Mr Justice Joseph Fok, Mr Justice Frank Stock and Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe – overturned their convictions in a unanimous decision.
“The appeal is allowed and the convictions are quashed,” Ribeiro said.
Chan stood up smiling after he was acquitted, shaking the hands of his supporters who surrounded him in the public gallery.
In a brief summary of the reasons, the justices wrote that what Chan did in this case was not an act “in relation to his principal’s affairs or business” at the television station – which is key to determining this appeal.
The trial, which started in 2011 at the District Court, found the duo not guilty at first. But at the Court of Appeal, the prosecutors successfully convinced the court that they should be convicted – leading to a fine of HK$84,000 for Chan and HK$28,000 for Tseng – prompting the pair to appeal against the decision.
During their ultimate appeal, their lawyers argued that it was just a classic case of “moonlighting”, and that Chan did not act with dishonesty when he accepted the payment because he had reasonable belief that he did not have to seek the permission of his bosses.
Outside court, Chan said he could finally soldier on “on a clear day” – a reference to the title of his morning talk show on Commercial Radio.
“When there are inexplicable changes in life, don’t be scared. Don’t panic,” he said, adding that “all haze is bound to go away one day”.
The current affairs show host also weighed in on the city’s independent judiciary, saying it was the cornerstone of Hong Kong’s success.
“Only when you have an independent judiciary, free from interference, can you tell the rights from the wrongs and the wrongs from the rights,” he said.