Husband signed deal for Teresa Cheng’s luxury HK$62 million Repulse Bay flat with full knowledge of illegal structures
Under-fire justice chief is also suspected to have purchased flat as a first-time buyer – despite owning companies that had bought at least three other properties
Evidence has been uncovered indicating that Hong Kong’s scandal-plagued justice minister Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah bought a HK$62 million (US$8 million) luxury flat in Repulse Bay even though the deed specified that there were illegal structures on the property.
Cheng, the secretary for justice, is also suspected to have bought the flat last year as a first-time buyer, despite owning companies that bought at least three other properties in Tuen Mun and Sha Tin.
The revelation came after Cheng’s office issued a late night press release on Sunday, admitting there were three illegal structures on a property she owned in Southern District.
Land Registry records show that Cheng bought a third-floor flat in Block A of Sea Cliff Mansions on 19C Repulse Bay Road last September.
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The Post found that the sale and purchase agreement specified that the buyer, by signing the agreement, acknowledged that the property “contains illegal structures, alterations and unauthorised additions”.
The agreement added that there were no applications or approval for any of these structures.
“The vendor will not warrant on the legality of the relevant conditions and the purchaser is willing to accept the property on its present state and condition,” the agreement said.
The document was signed by Cheng’s husband Otto Poon Lok-to but it specified Cheng as the purchaser.
The agreement also showed that Cheng paid a stamp duty of HK$2.635 million, 4.25 per cent of the flat price, which corresponded to the first-time buyer’s stamp duty.
She would have had to pay HK$9.3 million in stamp duty – or 15 per cent of the flat price – if she had not bought it as a first-time buyer.
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A visit by the Post to the flat found at least one suspected illegal alteration on its exterior.
The flat’s balcony railings – which were straight in the original plan – were replaced by curved ones protruding from the building.
There was no application for this alteration in the Buildings Department’s database, and Cheng herself admitted there were at least three illegal structures on the property.
A set of south-facing windows were enlarged, but this alteration was approved by the department and shown in its database.
Cheng took the helm at the Department of Justice on January 6 just as news emerged of unauthorised extensions to her home in Tuen Mun’s Villa De Mer estate.
Buildings Department inspectors later confirmed 10 illegal additions had been found at her house and her husband’s home next door. But Cheng insisted the structures were there when she bought the three-storey property in 2008.