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Legislative Council

Hong Kong Legco president broke rules on declaring interests, committee finds

Andrew Leung escapes punishment over non-disclosure of half a share in company, because there was no conflict with his role

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 May, 2017, 4:05pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 May, 2017, 8:50pm

Legislative Council president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen broke the rules on declarations of interest by failing to disclose his stake in a company for the past eight years as a lawmaker until media reports surfaced on the matter, a committee has ruled.

But the Legco committee on members’ interests did not recommend any penalty for Leung, who was elected in 2004.

“The committee feels that there is no information to suggest Leung was deliberate in the breach, or there is any conflict of interest with his role as a lawmaker,” committee chairman Yiu Si-wing said on Wednesday morning, informing the council of the findings.

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The committee started an inquiry after pan-democratic legislator Kenneth Leung complained in November, citing news reports that alleged the Legco president had not declared stakes in two companies.

Andrew Leung told the committee that he had held half a share in a company called SHL, which served European clients of his family’s clothing business.

Leung told the committee it was an “inadvertent oversight” on his part, but stressed that SHL only played a “peripheral role” in his family business and did not have any customers, because garment trading contracts were signed by the family company Sun Hing, and not by SHL. SHL was dissolved in January this year.

Andrew Leung said on Wednesday: “I have learned a lesson and will be more cautious with this kind of matter in future. The most important thing is there is no conflict of interest with my role as the president.”

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The pro-Beijing lawmaker’s private dealings have caused controversy before. When he competed for the presidency last year, he was exposed as still holding British nationality. The Legco head must not have right of abode in any foreign country. He had to renounce that citizenship and get a certificate of renunciation from the British consulate at the last minute, ahead of the vote on the presidency.

The committee found a second complaint was unsubstantiated. It involved a UK company which held a London property, but Leung clarified he had never held any shares, although UK public records inaccurately showed an “A. Leung” as a shareholder. Leung said he had instructed lawyers to handle the paperwork to clear his name.

Claudia Mo Man-ching, vice-chair of the committee, said the decision not to punish Leung was based on precedent. There were eight similar cases of failure to disclose a non-conflicting company directorship in the past three Legco terms, she said, and none of the lawmakers involved were penalised.

“But I have to say Mr Leung was rather imprudent in replying to our enquiries. I found this quite regrettable,” the pan-democrat said.