Rafael Hui Si-yan and the Kwok brothers were arrested 10 days after graft-busters recovered a note from the home of an alleged go-between that showed he had been pondering the severity of the penalty he would receive if convicted, the court heard yesterday.
Francis Kwan Hung-sang, a childhood friend of Hui, wrote in the note "convicted years of penalty?", prosecutor David Perry said.
The manuscript, recovered when he was arrested on March 19, 2012, also showed that he made a reference to "section 14" of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance. He was arrested three months after he was first interviewed by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Kwan, a former Hong Kong stock exchange official, faces two joint counts of conspiracy with Hui, the Kwok brothers and Thomas Chan Kui-yuen, over more than HK$19 million worth of bribes allegedly paid to Hui.
The note also showed he had sought legal advice that said: "Do not assist the investigation."
And at the top of the list of five items he scribbled "source of funds, time and possibility of tracing", the court heard.
Perry said this referred to an elaborate arrangement of fund movements from Thomas Kwok that eventually ended up in Hui's account.
The court heard that funds were routed through a Singaporean company and converted from Hong Kong dollars to US dollars before being put into time-deposit accounts. The time deposits were then used by Kwan as security to borrow money eventually paid to Hui.
Two more documents seized from Kwan's home purported to show that the HK$19 million Kwan transferred to Hui were "loans". But Perry said in fact they were designed to mislead the investigators.
"Why is [Kwan] concerned about years of penalty if these are loans?" Perry asked.
Perry said the handwritten note implicated Kwan, 63, as the "intermediary" of Sun Hung Kai Properties.
He said another document that purported to show that Chan and Kwan had entered into an "investment portfolio management" agreement was a "sham" created to explain why Chan gave Kwan HK$12 million.
The court heard that the ICAC went to Kwan after searching Hui's home in November 2011 and finding a cheque Hui had received from Kwan.
This came after the ICAC began an in-depth investigation into Hui's financial affairs in September that year. Since then, more ill-gotten payments Hui received from the Kwok brothers had come to light, Perry said.
"The investigators discovered [Hui] had been paid these large sums by [Kwan] but they didn't know why," Perry said.
"Nor did they know how [Kwan] was connected. It was certain that [Kwan] did not appear to be connected to SHKP. This is the puzzle: why would [Kwan] make the payments?"