A long-time friend of Hong Kong's former No 2 official Rafael Hui Si-yan helped him transfer millions of dollars to women on the mainland without questioning the motive because he believed Hui would never engage in illegal activities, a court heard yesterday.
Prosecution witness Raymond Chin Yuet-ming, Hui's friend of 20 years, told the Court of First Instance that he helped Hui, a former chief secretary, remit a total of HK$3 million to women in Shanghai and Shenzhen between 2009 and 2010.
Chin was testifying in the corruption trial of Hui, Sun Hung Kai Properties co-chairmen Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, and two others.
He said Hui asked him to make the telegraphic transfers. Hui wrote him cheques and he took the cash to remittance agents, he said. He had not met the women before the transfer.
"After [the transfer], in some meal gatherings, I saw some of those people," Chin said, adding that the gatherings took place in Hong Kong and that Hui was present.
Defence lawyer Charles Chan said Chin had told the investigators that he did not question Hui's requests because of their friendship and Hui's reputation.
"From your own observation, you would not believe Mr Hui would engage himself in illegal activities," asked Chan, representing alleged go-between Francis Kwan Hung-sang, a former Hong Kong stock exchange official.
"Correct," Chin said.
Kwan is accused of being part of an elaborate scheme designed to funnel millions of dollars from Thomas Kwok and Raymond Kwok to Hui, via SHKP executive director Thomas Chan Kui-yuen and Kwan. Hui was paid to be SHKP's "inside man" in the government, the prosecution alleges.
The court heard that Chin and Kwan were partners in a business selling AlcolOut - a product marketed as being capable of reducing the effects of alcohol.
Chin said Kwan invested in the business by way of directors' loans, which were not formally recorded.
The court heard earlier that Hui had loaned the company HK$2.5 million, of which HK$1.5 million was used to repay Kwan. The company still owed Hui the money, Chin said.
Hui, 66, faces eight counts related to bribery and misconduct in public office.
Thomas Kwok, 62, faces one charge of conspiracy to offer an advantage to Hui and two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.
Raymond Kwok, 61, faces four charges, including one with Hui of furnishing false information.
Thomas Chan and Kwan each face two charges.
All plead not guilty. The trial will resume on Wednesday.