Former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan would meet the tycoon Kwok brothers soon after closed-door meetings with top officials to discuss two development projects, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday.
Prosecutor David Perry QC was seeking to demonstrate how the Sun Hung Kai Properties co-chairmen apparently obtained inside information about the West Kowloon cultural district and Ma Wan projects from the former No 2 official.
Perry was wrapping up his opening remarks in the corruption trial of Hui, Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, a case he said was "business in politics" and "degrading of public service".
Hui, 66, whom Perry has described as the property magnates' "eyes and ears", is alleged to have taken HK$34 million in cash and inducements from the Kwoks while serving different public roles. He faces eight charges related to bribery and misconduct in public office.
Thomas Kwok, 62, faces one charge of conspiracy to offer an advantage to Hui and two of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. Raymond Kwok, 61, faces four charges, including one with Hui of furnishing false information. SHKP executive director Thomas Chan Kui-yuen, 67, and former Hong Kong stock exchange official Francis Kwan Hung-sang, 63, each face two charges. All plead not guilty.
Perry said yesterday that a diary entry by Raymond Kwok on November 30, 2005, showed the brothers had lunch with Hui six days after Hui had a discussion with then chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen over their dispute with the government over the Ma Wan project.
The company sought a change to the ratio between ferry and road access to the island, he said, while SHKP and the government had a dispute over a delay in the development.
Hui had acted knowing that SHKP had a direct financial interest, Perry said. "In truth, he acted as a consultant to SHKP."
In the following two years, Perry noted, Hui remained involved in the West Kowloon project, even after stepping down as chief secretary in 2007.
In his diary entry for June 1, 2007, Hui mentioned West Kowloon and co-defendant Thomas Chan. And one day after he attended three events including a press conference on the project on September 12 that year, he met Thomas Chan. On September 22 he was invited to a dinner with Thomas Kwok.
In the two ensuing months, Perry said, HK$11.182 million was channelled by co-defendant Kwan, Hui's childhood friend, between Hong Kong and Singapore before reaching Hui, by then an executive councillor.
Raymond Kwok had told the prosecution that Hui offered no favours to SHKP over West Kowloon as the original tender process, in which the project was to have been offered to a developer, was scrapped.
But Perry said that did not matter. "He is valuable to SHKP irrespective of the merit of the decision," he said. "It's about business in politics."
Raymond Kwok, in the words of his secretary Murine Lo, had at first appeared "awed" and "scratched his head" when Hui, who was then employed as a consultant for the firm, terminated his position early before becoming the chief secretary in 2005 but asked for HK$4.125 million for the remainder of the term.
In the end, however, Kwok "didn't look surprised", Perry quoted Lo as saying.
The trial continues today.