Rafael Hui Si-yan's debt shot up from HK$4 million to HK$57 million in a two-year period after he had stepped down as chief secretary, the High Court heard yesterday.
Jurors at his graft trial heard more evidence of what the prosecution described as Hui's "extravagant" lifestyle and spending far beyond his legitimate income as he indulged a taste for keeping horses, five-star hotel meals, trips abroad and opera.
The HK$57 million debt was an overview of the financial situation of about 30 bank accounts held by Hui or his company, Top Faith Enterprises.
Lead prosecutor David Perry QC, citing bank documents, said a month before Hui became chief secretary in 2005, his banks' overdrafts amounted to HK$7.8 million. This was greatly reduced when Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong, now Sun Hung Kai Properties co-chairman, allegedly paid him HK$5 million.
His balance surged into the black to HK$10.45 million, after he became chief secretary on June 30. The prosecution alleges that Kwok and his brother, co-chairman Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, paid him to be their "eyes and ears" in government.
Hui's balance dropped to HK$2.6 million by the time he stepped down as chief secretary in 2007 and joined the Executive Council as unofficial member, a post he kept until January 2009.
His monthly salary was around HK$380,000 as chief secretary and HK$105,000 as an unofficial member of Exco. In June 2008 his bank deficit was HK$4 million. In June 2010, it reached HK$57 million.
The revelations came as the trial entered the final stage of the prosecution on the 69th day of what was scheduled to be a 70-day session. The trial, to be resumed on September 4, looks set to be lengthened for the defence.
Hui, 66, faces eight charges 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. 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.