Hong Kong lawmaker ‘Long Hair’ Leung has case to answer over his failure to disclose donation from tycoon Jimmy Lai, court finds
Ruling comes after judge admits key documents such as pan-democrat’s past declarations, council meeting participation and responses to media inquiries
A Hong Kong court ruled on Monday that veteran lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung has a case to answer in his alleged failure to declare to the Legislative Council a HK$250,000 donation from a media tycoon.
The District Court ruling came after judge Alex Lee Wan-tang admitted key documents such as records of the lawmaker’s past declarations, council meeting participation and responses to media inquiries into evidence, despite defence objections.
Prosecutors said such records showed Leung was aware of the legislative requirement to register the payment and disclose his acceptance during meetings that might discuss issues relating to his donor, media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, yet he deliberately failed to do so.
Leung is to open his defence case on Tuesday.
The 60-year-old lawmaker earlier pleaded not guilty to one count of misconduct in public office over a failure to declare the payment between his acceptance on May 22, 2012, and his arrest on June 23 last year.
His counsel, Martin Lee Chu-ming SC, on Monday accused prosecutors of repeatedly changing their case: from limiting the allegation to his failure to disclose receipt of the money per se, to including his non-disclosure both at a council meeting in January 2014 and to media the following summer.
Lee said his client would have completed the full offence if and when he failed to declare his receipt of the payment within 14 days, as required by Legco’s rules of procedure. Hence, what happened after, Lee claimed, would only serve as aggravating factors to be considered in sentencing.
But senior assistant director of public prosecutions, Anna Lai Yuen-kee SC, argued that evidence of subsequent events would support their claim that the concealment was wilful and intentional.
She added that Leung’s non-disclosure at a council meeting and in subsequent media interviews would reflect the seriousness of the offence.
The judge eventually sided with prosecutors after finding the defence had failed to raise valid objections over evidence that could help the court understand Leung’s state of mind.
Under Legco rules, new lawmakers must register all remunerated employments, donations, financial sponsorships and material benefits within 14 days of filling a vacant seat, while re-elected members must do so no later than the first meeting.
Members are also prohibited from moving any motion or amendment relating to a matter in which they may have a pecuniary interest, or speak on any such matters, unless the nature of interest is disclosed.
The trial continues.