Rafael Hui Si-yan spent well over his HK$380,000 income each month, regularly splurging up to HK$20,000 on opera music records and even more on keeping his horses at the Jockey Club, the High Court heard yesterday.
But even after his government income fell to HK$105,000, he was withdrawing well over HK$1 million a month, bank statements showed.
On one occasion, he paid HK$100,000 for the upkeep of his horses, and on another, HK$150,500 for a stay at the Dorchester Hotel in London.
The end of Hui's term as chief secretary did not mean cutting back on expenses. If anything, the reverse happened, according to prosecutors who laid bare the high life he lived while at the power core of the city - as the No 2 official between June 2005 and June 2007, and as a non-official member of the Executive Council from July 2007 to January 2009.
In October 2008 he signed HK$616,000 on credit cards.
In those 31/2 years, Hui received a total income of HK$11.3 million from the government, but withdrew HK$22.8 million in cash and spent a further HK$9.6 million via credit cards, lead prosecutor David Perry QC said.
In none of those months since early 2006 did he spend less than he got from the government, Perry said, reading out the month-by-month money movements of Hui's accounts in court.
It was not uncommon for Hui to withdraw HK$80,000 a day. Between November 2007 and December 2008, as he neared the end of his time in public office, he took out well in excess of HK$1 million a month, Perry said.
Within a single month, in December 2007, Hui withdrew HK$1.36 million, one month after the billionaire Kwok brothers allegedly paid him HK$11.182 million to be their "eyes and ears" in government.
He often dined at upscale hotels like the Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, Island Shangri-la and Conrad. In October 2005, about three months after he became chief secretary, he spent HK$45,000 at Grand Hyatt. And every few months he would visit Japan and London, with "a good deal of" credit card spending in restaurants and hotels.
Horse-keeping started off at about HK$20,000 a month, but rose to HK$60,000 after he stopped being chief secretary.
Then there were the one-off shopping sprees - a HK$212,000 Carlson watch, a HK$166,950 bill at Sogo department store and a HK$78,750 bill at Hermes.
Hui, 66, has pleaded not guilty to eight charges related to bribery and misconduct in public office.