14-month timeline approved for Hong Kong Legco probe into UGL saga involving CY Leung
Lawmakers from both camps however failed to reach a consensus on areas of study in the investigation
A Legislative Council panel will need 14 months to investigate a HK$50 million payment that Hong Kong’s outgoing chief executive received from an Australian engineering firm, with the final case report due in May next year.
The timeline, which was approved on Wednesday morning in a meeting by panel members, means no conclusion on the case will be reached before Leung Chun-ying steps down as the city’s leader by July this year.
In 2011, Leung received the HK$50 million payout after signing a “non-compete and non-poach” agreement with UGL. The Australian company had bought insolvent firm DTZ, of which Leung was a director before running for the city’s top job.
Leung did not declare the payment to the Executive Council, and he later said there was no conflict of interest.
However, a group of pan-democratic lawmakers were not convinced and launched the select committee in November last year.
The 11-member committee consists of four pan-democrats and seven pro-establishment lawmakers, including the body’s chairman Paul Tse Wai-chun.
On Wednesday, the committee also confirmed that they will conduct hearings involving witnesses from May to October this year to build evidence.
From November to April next year, the group will prepare and discuss a draft report, before submitting the final version at a full Legco meeting next May.
It was unclear if Leung, whose five-year term as the city’s leader ends on June 30, will give evidence to the committee, as the body lacked the special investigative powers to summon officials.
Before the committee approved the plan, lawmakers from both camps had debated and failed to reach a consensus on whether to adopt the proposed list of major areas of study.
According to the document, three key issues were proposed for study: the declaration requirements of Exco, the background and details of the agreement between Leung and UGL, and whether a conflict of interest was involved.
But pro-establishment lawmaker Holden Chow Ho-ding refused to approve the list.
He said: “The document says we are to examine whether the terms in the UGL agreement had been modified, and if so, by whom. Does it mean that we are probing whether Leung forged the agreement? This is going beyond our responsibilities.”
Democratic Party’s Andrew Wan Siu-kin disagreed, saying that the proposed areas of study only provided a guideline for the committee.
“I wonder if the pro-establishment lawmakers are just trying to procrastinate and to avoid embarrassing Leung while he’s still in office,” Wan told reporters after the meeting.