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Leung Chun-ying

CY Leung’s HK$50 million UGL deal will face fresh scrutiny after ex-leader’s misconduct conviction, academic says

Calls for action over Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s deal with Australian firm will only grow in the wake of Donald Tsang’s conviction, pro-Beijing scholar says

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2017, 8:51pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2017, 11:40pm

A pro-Beijing academic has said a potential criminal case against outgoing Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying concerning a HK$50 million deal with Australian firm UGL may be subject to greater calls for action in the wake of ex-leader Donald Tsang Yam-kuen’s misconduct conviction.

The comments by Lau Siu-kai came as Leung on Wednesday sought to distance himself from any criminality by issuing a statement dismissing a report by pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily that suggested he could not escape prosecution.

The conviction of Tsang, who led the city between 2005 and 2012, has sparked questions about whether and when his successor will be next to face prosecution.

Investigations are ongoing over Leung’s decision not to declare his deal with the engineering firm. He received part of the HK$50 million sum when he was chief executive.

Lau, who is vice-chairman of a high-level think tank put together by Beijing officials, told RTHK it would be “inevitable” that calls for an investigation into Leung’s affairs would flare up after Tsang was on Wednesday handed a 20-month jail term.

“Society will be more concerned about the UGL issue,” Lau said.

He added that Hong Kong’s image as a relatively corruption-free city had been hit by the convictions of several high-ranking officials for bribery in recent years, although the appropriate sentences imposed by the courts could also serve as proof of the rule of law in Hong Kong.

Leung’s statement on Wednesday read: “The ... unfounded article which claims that I might have committed offences under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance and of misconduct in public office has seriously tarnished my reputation ... I reserve all rights to take further action.”

He said he had formally resigned from the position of director at insolvent property firm DTZ on November 24, 2011, and ceased to be a director when he signed a “non-compete and non-poach” agreement with UGL, which bought DTZ, in early December that year.

DTZ’s management, including then chairman Tim Melville-Ross, had been “fully aware” of his agreement with UGL, Leung said.

He posted on his chief executive blog an old Australian news report and a statement by UGL, both from 2014, as part of his rebuttal of the Apple Daily report.

The Australian news article, dated October 15, 2014, said Melville-Ross had known of the UGL agreement, a claim which contradicted remarks attributed to him in a previous news report that said he had not been aware of it.

“I don’t see any relationship between such materials and the ongoing investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption,” said Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, a former investigator for the city’s graft-busting agency.

“Apparently the conviction of Tsang has given Leung immense psychological pressure.”

Leung however did not quash speculation in the Apple Daily report that he would be appointed a vice-chairman next month of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.