The justice secretary was given the go-ahead yesterday by a High Court judge to seek to reclaim the multi-million dollar estate of a deceased police sergeant who allegedly accumulated his fortune through corruption. Deputy High Court Judge Aarif Barma SC dismissed arguments from the man's family that the government had taken too long to bring the case to court, according to the statute of limitations. Hon Kwing-shum, alias Hon Shum or Hon Sum, served in the Royal Hong Kong Police from September 1940 until he retired in August 1971. Upon retirement he and his beneficiaries owned $4,155,775 worth of assets. This included 26 properties, various bank accounts, investments and two Mercedes Benz cars. Hon accumulated his fortune despite earning a total of just $193,852 during his 31 years with the force. He moved to Canada shortly after his retirement then fled a bid to extradite him to Hong Kong in May 1977. He died in Taipei in August 1999. The government filed a writ in July 2000 seeking to recover assets from Hon's estate that had been frozen by the Independent Commission Against Corruption. But Hon's son, Hon Kam-wing, wife Wan Lin, younger sister Hon Yuet-ngor, and concubines Kan Suk-ying and Lau Miu-yuk had sought to strike out the government's action on the grounds it was time-barred. Deputy Judge Barma ruled there was no period of limitation in bringing the action. '[The assets purchased with bribe money] were never, from the moment of receipt, his own, but always [belonged to] his beneficiary, the government,' he said. '[Hon's family] cannot, therefore, set up any limitation defence to defeat the government's equitable title to the trust property.'