Son of jailed Hong Kong tycoon Thomas Kwok says father was careless, clumsy but not corrupt
Property executive claims billionaire father had no way to know former chief secretary would fail to declare what could have been legitimate payment
The son of jailed Hong Kong property tycoon Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong launched an emotional defence of his father on Wednesday, saying the billionaire did not have a “shred of intent to be corrupt”.
Speaking outside the Court of Final Appeal after it dismissed his father’s appeal against his conviction for conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, Sun Hung Kai Properties executive director Adam Kwok Kai-fai insisted the elder Kwok was only guilty of carelessness and clumsiness.
Thomas Kwok is serving a five-year prison term for bribing former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan.
“You can say he, my father, is careless, he is clumsy or he is overgenerous. But I know he has not a single shred of intent to be corrupt,” he said, adding that he felt helpless.
There was no way, he said, for his father to know Hui would fail to declare what could have been a legitimate payment from Thomas Kwok – though that payment was now deemed corrupt.
His father Thomas Kwok was jailed in 2014 for one count of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office with Hui and two other co-defendants, Thomas Chan Kui-yuen, a former Sun Hung Kai subordinate, and Francis Kwan Hung-sang, a former stock exchange official. All four lost their final appeal at the top court on Wednesday.
The tycoon, who was a former joint chairman of Sun Hung Kai, had offered Hui, through Chan, and Kwan, HK$8.5 million shortly before Hui went on to take up the chief secretary’s job in 2005. While prosecutors argued during the trial and appeals that Hui would become favourably disposed towards Thomas Kwok’s company in exchange for the money, defence lawyers contended that Hui had not actually done anything in favour of Sun Hung Kai Properties despite pocketing the sum.
The younger Kwok said he respected the judgment, but believed the jury had been misdirected in only considering the receipt of the payment without taking into account the fact that Hui did nothing in return afterwards that constituted a corrupt act.
He also suggested there were complications in the business world, where “gentleman’s agreements” were made.
The lesson for his father, he said, was he had been careless in not documenting the money transaction he had made with Hui.
Commenting on Hui’s part, Adam Kwok said: “We told him to declare. Yet he failed to do so. We were left speechless.”