The Executive Council’s convenor came to the rescue of an embattled colleague on Thursday, saying Franklin Lam Fan-keung could not have benefited from advance knowledge of government property measures when he sold two flats last month.
Convenor Lam Woon-kwong told reporters that the cooling measures to bring down property prices were unveiled so carefully that Franklin Lam could not have known they were coming.
The measures were revealed to Exco immediately before they were announced in the Legislative Council last Friday, the convenor said. All members of Exco were given only three hours’ notice of that meeting.
When the meeting began, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying first required all appointed Exco members to outline their financial interests and asked whether they had recently sold any properties they owned.
“During the meeting, the chief executive carefully reminded all non-officio members that they must declare their financial interests, and asked whether they had recently sold any flats, before they were provided with the document,” Lam said.
Only then were the councillors told the details of the two new property measures – a stamp duty of 15 per cent on non-permanent-resident and corporate buyers, and discouraging quick resales by increasing the existing stamp duty and time period involved.
The convenor noted that Exco members were from all walks of life, and that it was impossible to prevent them from having their own business or properties.
The current system for monitoring councillors’ financial interests is working well, he said.
Franklin Lam, a property-market analyst, earned a profit of HK$10 million by selling two Mid-Levels flats to a suspected mainlander about two weeks ago. He said on Monday he did not know about the new measures when he sold the flats.