Rafael Hui Si-yan bluntly dismissed any conflict of interest arising from his former role as a Sun Hung Kai Properties consultant when he became chief secretary in 2005, news videos played at his corruption trial yesterday showed.
In a press interview on July 6, 2005, a week after being appointed the No 2 official, Hui said: "I don't think there are any conflicts of interest or conflicts of roles."
Watch: Rafael Hui denies conflict of interest to press in 2005
Hui appeared emotionless in the dock as he watched his cheerful demeanour in a number of TV clips from nine years ago but at times nodded as he heard himself rejecting allegations put by journalists.
Hui is accused of receiving tens of millions of dollars in cash and other inducements from Sun Hung Kai Properties co-chairmen Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen and two others without disclosing them.
"When I worked as a consultant for Sun Hung Kai previously, I provided some opinions on politics and some were opinions on the economy. I haven't participated in any lobbying work either," he told reporters on July 6, 2005.
"In particular, concerning the West Kowloon [Cultural District project], I had no involvement at all. That's why I think there is not, there is nothing that is the so-called conflict of interests."
Hui was answering a question from a reporter who had raised concerns that he would continue to handle the West Kowloon project as chief secretary despite his background as a consultant for SHKP, which bid for the project.
It is alleged that Hui had received millions of dollars - some of which were given just a few hours before he was sworn in as chief secretary - from the Kwok brothers to be the "inside man" and "eyes and ears" of the developer in the government.
In the July 6, 2005 interviews Hui told reporters at the old Legislative Council building: "The first time I worked here was actually 20 years ago in 1985."
He sought to alleviate public concern over his prior business involvement.
"Yes, of course, there is definitely a salary for the work of a consultant. But this relationship has already ended.
"One more thing. The government's internal system is very sound and very transparent and is monitored in many ways, so what everyone must see is that our future doings will be very overt and will largely hinge on public opinions and hinge on the interests of the public," Hui said.
The interview took place after Hui was sworn in as chief secretary. He was appointed to the job after his predecessor, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, succeeded Tung Chee-hwa as chief executive on June 21, 2005.
Hui, 66, faces eight charges related to bribery and misconduct in public office.
Thomas Kwok, 62, and Raymond Kwok, 61, face three and four charges respectively. 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. The trial continues today.