The sister-in-law of an alleged go-between in the relationship between former government No2 Rafael Hui Si-yan and the co-chairmen of Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) testified for the prosecution in the corruption trial yesterday.
Mabel Chan May-po told the Court of First Instance her in-law, co-defendant Francis Kwan Hung-sang, had control of a bank account under her name from which HK$400,000 and HK$250,000 were drawn to obtain two cashier orders which were paid to Hui a few days before he became chief secretary in late June 2005. Chan said she first saw the cashier orders when she was arrested by the Independent Commission Against Corruption in 2012.
The prosecution alleges that Kwan, a former stock exchange official, was part of an elaborate scheme involving SHKP bosses Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong, 62, and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, 61, to pay "sweeteners" to Hui to be SHKP's "eyes and ears" in the government.
The prosecution alleges Kwan, a childhood friend of Hui's, routed money through the Hang Seng Bank account of his wife's sister to complicate the money trail. Chan said the account was opened to hold money left behind by her mother when she migrated to Canada.
At first, she said, her signature was required to deal with the funds. Later, she made Kwan an authorised person for the sake of convenience. "Have you ever seen the bank statements," lead prosecutor David Perry QC asked. Chan said no.
Earlier yesterday, lawyers for Kwan said that money moving in and out of Kwan's account was for genuine investment.
Barrister Charles Chan was referring to US$1.5 million deposited into Kwan's account by a Singapore company, which he then allegedly placed in a time deposit to obtain a loan paid to Hui.
The lawyer said Kwan was instead trying to earn money by taking advantage of the difference between interest earned from deposits and incurred on loans. Citing a bank statement, he said the interest rate for a US$500,000 deposit Kwan made was 2.3 per cent - as compared to the 1.11 per cent interest of the Hong Kong dollar loan.
"This is not done to cover up the nature of transaction. It's a very normal transaction," Charles Chan said.
Hui, 66, is accused of receiving HK$34 million between 2000 and 2009. He faces eight charges of bribery and misconduct in public office. Thomas Kwok faces one charge of conspiracy to offer an advantage to Hui and two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. Raymond Kwok faces four charges, including one of furnishing false information with Hui. Thomas Chan Kui-yuen, 67, executive director of SHKP, and Francis Kwan Hung-sang, 63, each face two charges. All plead not guilty.
The hearing continues today.