Former Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan was one of only two members of the steering committee for the West Kowloon Cultural District project allowed to take away a confidential document from the committee offices, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday.
Apart from Hui and former housing chief Michael Suen Ming-yeung, all other 10-odd members had to read the document - a draft report on developers' proposals for the arts hub - in the committee's Wan Chai Tower headquarters, the court heard.
The report contained sensitive financial information and views of the evaluation committee on three final proposals, Danny Lau Kam-chuen, then secretary to the committee, told the court.
Lau was giving evidence at the corruption trial in which Hui is alleged to have received tens of millions of dollars from Sun Hung Kai Properties' co-chairmen to be the developer's "eyes and ears" in the government on the West Kowloon project and a development on Ma Wan Island.
A venture involving SHKP was one of the bidders for the arts hub project at a time when the government was considering awarding it to a single developer.
Confirming details put to him by the prosecution, Chan said that in a 2005 public consultation on the project, concerns were expressed about possible collusion between the government and the successful developer.
Unlike the draft report, copies of the full report could be taken away by principal officials who were members of the steering committee and representatives of the Department of Justice.
In the full version, World City Culture Park, under Henderson Land Development, ranked first, Dynamic Star, a joint venture between SHKP and Cheung Kong, was second and Sunny Development, formed by Sino Land, Wharf Holdings and Chinese Estates was third, the court heard.
In light of responses to the consultation, the court heard, Hui wrote to then chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen on August 4, 2005, about the "entrenched public perception" of collusion.
He suggested that the single-developer approach would not work and that part of the commercial development should be carved out for other developers.
Hui, 66, faces eight charges related to bribery and misconduct in public office.
SKHP co-chairman Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong, 62, faces one charge of conspiracy to offer an advantage to Hui and two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. His brother and co-chairman Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, 61, faces four charges, including one with Hui of furnishing false information.
SHKP executive director Thomas Chan Kui-yuen and former Hong Kong stock exchange official Francis Kwan Hung-sang each face two charges.
All have pleaded not guilty. The trial continues today.