Leung Chun-ying

Hong Kong chief executive threatens lawmaker with legal action over UGL payment comments

Pan-democrat Kenneth Leung told to explain his allegation that Leung Chun-ying was facing a tax probe or face legal action without further notice

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 March, 2017, 11:08pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 March, 2017, 11:38pm

In an unprecedented move, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has threatened to take legal action against pan-democratic lawmaker Kenneth Leung for his remarks over the outgoing leader’s involvement in the UGL saga.

The letter described the comments as “a considered and well prepared strategy to discredit” the chief executive.

Kenneth Leung was asked to “explain the factual basis” of his allegation that the chief executive was being investigated on tax matters in relation to a HK$50 million payment by UGL.

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He was given until noon Friday to give an explanation. Otherwise, a government source said, legal proceedings could commence “without further notice”.

Leung Chun-ying received the payout after signing a “non-compete and non-poach” agreement with the Australian engineering company when it bought insolvent property firm DTZ, of which Leung was a director.

The letter dated Thursday and addressed to Kenneth Leung said the lawmaker’s remarks made during a press briefing on Wednesday about the chief executive being probed by the ICAC and local and overseas tax authorities over the UGL saga “contain a blatant attack on [the chief executive’s] character and conduct”.

Leung Chun-ying, who left for Beijing on Thursday night to attend the annual session of theChinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) starting on Friday, said he had already “fully explained” the UGL saga to the central government “in the past two to three years”.

“They are well aware of the ­issue. And they have also taken legal advice,” Leung said.

“So there is no question of the central government not taking this into account when it considered [appointing] me to serve on the CPPCC.”

“I have never received any inquiries from any tax authority of any place,” he added.

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The chief executive was earlier this week appointed a member of China’s top political advisory body. He is expected to be elevated to a vice-chairman’s post later this month.

He will stay in Beijing until Sunday after attending the opening of the annual session of the National People’s Congress.

A group of 26 pan-democratic lawmakers wrote a petition to CPPCC chairman Yu Zhengshengon Wednesday, asking him not to appoint Leung Chun-ying as a vice-chairman because of the controversy.

“It would deliver a negative message to the world if a dishonest and divisive figure like [Leung Chun-ying] ends up being one of the nation’s leaders,” their petition read. “It would embarrass the central government if Leung ends up being prosecuted for it.”

In November last year, the legislature passed a motion put forward by pan-democrats to form a select committee to look into the saga. The committee is expected to hold its first meeting on Friday.

Kenneth Leung did not reply to repeated requests by the Post for ­comment.