Former development secretary Mak Chai-kwong and a senior civil servant appeared briefly in court on Thursday to face charges of cheating on government housing allowances in the 1980s. Mak, 62, and assistant highways director Tsang King-man, 57, were freed on HK$50,000 bail each after their appearance at Eastern Court. They were not required to enter a plea on Thursday. A magistrate transferred their case to District Court for a next hearing on November 6, and ordered them to report to the Independent Commission Against Corruption regularly until then. A total of 45 witnesses will be summoned to their trial. The two men face a joint charge of conspiring to defraud the government of HK$700,000 in the 1980s. Mak also faces two counts of using documents with the intent of deceiving the government. Tsang faces three of the same charges. Walking out of court with his lawyer, neither Mak nor Tsang would answer reporters’ questions before separately boarding their cars and leaving. In the 1980s Mak claimed a housing allowance for renting a City Garden flat in North Point from Tsang. Tsang, in turn, rented Mak’s flat while also claiming the allowance – a practice known as cross-leasing – for more than two years. The ICAC says Mak and Tsang falsely represented that they did not have a financial or proprietary interest in the flats they were renting. Under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, it is an offence for an employee to deceive or mislead his employer. The maximum penalty is a fine of HK$500,000 and seven years in jail. Both men could lose their pensions if found guilty. Mak was arrested on July 12 this year – less than two weeks after he took office – and resigned the same day. Tsang was arrested shortly afterwards, but he remains assistant highways director.