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CY Leung UGL payment saga

Lawmaker investigating Hong Kong leader CY Leung refuses to quit probe amid allegations of ‘prejudice’

Pan-democratic lawmaker Kenneth Leung accuses outgoing leader of meddling in Legco affairs in controversy over HK$50m payment

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 May, 2017, 12:10pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 May, 2017, 1:02pm

A key player in a Hong Kong legislative probe over the city leader’s past business dealings has refused to quit the investigation over charges of conflict of interest.

Pan-democratic lawmaker Kenneth Leung of the Professionals Guild also accused the top official of again meddling in the Legislative Council’s affairs by making such a demand.

Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying admits intervening in probe into HK$50 million payment

The rebuttal came a day after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying accused the lawmaker, whom he is suing for allegedly defaming him over the UGL controversy, of being prejudiced against him.

As the defendant in the defamation case, the lawmaker had a direct conflict of interest by discussing the scope of the probe, the outgoing leader claimed.

“Please give me a reason why I should quit [the investigation],” Kenneth Leung, also a tax consultant and lawyer, said on Thursday.

“My question on whether there is any tax burden regarding the UGL [payment] is not prejudicial, but my professional opinion. I stand by it and I hope Leung Chun-ying will show up in future meetings of the select committee to come clean.”

The committee was set up last year at the behest of pan-democrats after it emerged that Leung had received HK$50 million following Australian engineering firm UGL’s 2011 purchase of DTZ, an insolvent property company in which he was a director.

Legco inquiry into CY’s business dealings must be transparent

Leung, who received the money after he became chief executive, agreed under the deal not to form or join a rival firm and to help promote the company, but he did not declare his fee to the cabinet, the Executive Council.

The political storm over Leung Chun-ying’s intervention in the Legco probe erupted on Monday after it was revealed that pro-establishment lawmaker Holden Chow Ho-ding had helped him get involved behind the scenes in setting the scope of the investigation.

In the wake of his row with Kenneth Leung, the chief executive on Thursday formally submitted a proposal on the direction the probe should take. He asked the committee to examine the authenticity of a handwritten clause which he inserted into the UGL agreement saying that he would not help promote UGL business if there was a conflict of interest.

If Chow was to stay, he’d come under constant questions as to whether he was acting for Leung
Regina Ip, lawmaker

Kenneth Leung also dismissed an accusation made by the chief executive that the lawmaker had failed to declare his interest over the defamation lawsuit in committee meetings.

The lawmaker said he had consulted the committee chairman and Legco’s legal adviser ahead of the committee’s first meeting, adding he was advised that his lawsuit would not amount to a conflict of interest and did not require any declaration.

But the chief executive on Thursday remained adamant the lawmaker should quit the committee. “If he stays, he can do or not do something, say or not say something, in return for me dropping the lawsuit against him,” he said.

Meanwhile, pan-democratic lawmakers are planning to try to oust Chow from the committee and table a motion to condemn him.

Some of Chow’s allies agreed Chow should withdraw. “If Chow was to stay, he’d come under constant questions as to whether he was acting for Leung,” New People’s Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said. “This would affect the progress of the inquiry.”