Raymond Kwok Ping-luen claimed he paid Rafael Hui Si-yan HK$4.125 million, which Hui had demanded as consultancy fees from Sun Hung Kai Properties , because it would have been "embarrassing" not to pay, the Court of First Instance heard.
The SHKP co-chairman said refusal to pay up would have made his company look "downright mean".
Hui demanded the sum in April 2005 after he prematurely terminated a consultancy agreement that he had entered into with Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency the year before, Kwok said in an earlier submission to the prosecution.
That sum represented consultancy fees for the remaining 11 months of the agreement that he could not fulfil, the court heard.
Prosecutor David Perry QC said the payment was made at a time rumours were rife that Hui would soon be named chief secretary, an appointment that eventually came at the end of June that year.
Kwok agreed to the payment and scribbled on an invoice recovered from SHKP "OK in view of Mr Hui's excellent performance during his consultancy work with us for the past 13 months", the court heard.
Perry said Hui terminated the agreement because he was "gearing himself" to become chief secretary of the administration.
"It is obviously important for [Hui] to give the appearance that he is not an SHKP man," Perry said. "He has to give that appearance to be independent."
Perry asked how fees could be due for 11 months into the future when Hui could no longer serve as a consultant.
"He was not entitled," the prosecutor said. "He was no longer a consultant and he can't be a consultant because he would be chief secretary."
Perry questioned Kwok's explanation that the company would have looked mean if he had not paid the HK$4.125 million.
He noted that the Kwok brothers had been allowing Hui to use two luxury flats in Happy Valley and an office at One IFC free of charge.
Perry said the HK$4.125 million was in fact one of a series of payments made to "sweeten" Hui as a prospective government official. "You give me money and I show you goodwill," Perry said of what he called the real purpose of the payments.
Perry said Kwok claimed he was unaware that Hui - his close friend - would be named the second most senior official, or that his brother, Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong, had paid Hui about HK$5 million the same month.
"You ought to consider how credible this is," Perry told the jury, highlighting Raymond Kwok's close ties with Hui and his brother.
Perry also highlighted an odd feature on a payment voucher that the agency made to Hui for the HK$4.125 million. The voucher "predated" the invoice Hui sent to SHKP, suggesting it was paid because of a pre-existing agreement, Perry said.
He said a copy of the invoice found at Hui's home had been "tampered" with. Words scribbled by Raymond Kwok had been "blanked off" to the extent that only "us" and "RK" - a reference to Raymond Kwok - remained.