More questions have been raised about executive councillor Franklin Lam Fan-keung's property dealings after it emerged that a flat he sold in Mid-Levels involved no property agent or commission.
A solicitor said it looked suspicious, but one explanation was that Lam sold the Casa Bella flat 14C to a friend without going through an agent to save the 1 per cent commission.
Another possibility was that he sold through an agent, but offered a smaller commission under the table, which can be a violation of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance.
According to the agreement for the sale and purchase obtained from the Land Registry, flat 14C was sold to someone called Lam Wing-sheung on October 10 for HK$9.62 million. The agreement shows no agent was involved and so no commission was paid by either buyer or seller.
Lam says he sold another flat in the building, flat 14B, through the Centaline agency. But he has not said clearly whether he sold 14C through an agent. He also said he did not know the buyer of 14B but did not say clearly whether he knew the buyer of 14C.
A spokesman at Centaline said the firm was not involved in the sale of 14C.
Lam, a property market analyst turned executive councillor, drew criticism from lawmakers when it was revealed that he sold the two Casa Bella flats a few weeks before the government introduced measures to curb property prices on October 26.
Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said the agreement was unusual. "There can be an under-the-table deal in this case," he said. He urged Lam to explain the matter in public.
Lam has taken a leave of absence from Exco and it is understood the Independent Commission Against Corruption is looking into the case.
The Democratic Party will propose a motion of no confidence in Lam on December 12 as it said he had failed to give a full explanation of the flat sales after more than three weeks. Lawmaker Wu Chi-wai urged Lam to quit Exco for the sake of the government's credibility.