The High Court yesterday declared former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan bankrupt for failing to repay unspecified debts to the Bank of East Asia (BEA).
In a spectacular fall from grace, the man who was once Hong Kong's No2 official, cannot now take a taxi, unless he can justify it, or use a credit card.
And it is unlikely that Hui, 65 - who is involved in a corruption case with Sun Hung Kai Properties' co-chairmen Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen - will be allowed to hire an expensive barrister to represent him in the criminal trial in May, a lawyer said.
Payment of his pension would be suspended until he was discharged from bankruptcy, a government spokesman said. However, Hui could apply to the Civil Service Bureau for an ex-gratia payment for his maintenance or to repay his debts.
High Court master Hui Ka-ho handed down the bankruptcy order after the bank filed a bankruptcy petition in September. In April BEA issued a writ asking Hui to pay all money due under two overdraft facilities and two credit cards.
Outside court, lawyers for the bank said it had obtained a debt judgment against Hui about three months ago before it filed the bankruptcy petition. Hui did not respond to the application made by the bank.
Hui faces claims from five lenders: BEA, Hang Seng Bank, Honour Finance (a company owned by Sun Hung Kai Properties), Chong Hing Bank and Standard Chartered Bank. Media reports suggest the debts amount to almost HK$75 million, including an unconfirmed HK$60 million owed to BEA.
Lawyer Vitus Leung Wing-hang said: "Hui will not be allowed to live in a big house or to use any credit cards."
Hui also could not take a taxi or travel overseas unless he could justify it, Leung said. The issue of the house would not be a problem if it was owned by his family.
Leung said Hui might be able to persuade the Official Receiver's Office to allow him to hire an expensive lawyer if his family agreed to pay the legal fees.
In March, Hui, the Kwok brothers and two others pleaded not guilty to multiple charges after an investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
The ICAC alleges that between 2000 and 2009 Hui took more than HK$34 million in bribes and the rent-free use of a flat in Happy Valley in return for favours.