Lawmaker calls for probe into ex-ICAC head's spending

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 April, 2013, 7:22pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 April, 2013, 9:12pm

A legislator plans to call for a special inquiry to investigate Timothy Tong Hin-ming, following allegations that the former head of the city’s anti-corruption agency had used public funds to treat mainland officials to extravagant banquets.

The Ming Pao Daily newspaper reported on Tuesday that Tong had allegedly treated officials from the mainland’s liaison office in Hong Kong to banquets 20 times during his five-year tenure.

Tong became a Hong Kong delegate to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) after retiring from the Independent Commission Against Corruption last July.

Two of the banquets hosted by Tong were held at Grand Hyatt Hotel in Wan Chai, a five-star hotel that has been patronised by many top mainland leaders, including former Chinese president Hu Jintao and current Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, according to the report.

Ming Pao reported that some of the banquets coincided with senior appointments made by the ICAC and with Hong Kong court hearings on a high-profile corruption case involving a mainland businessman.

James To Kun-sun, deputy chairman of the Legislative Council security panel, on Thursday called for a special inquiry to summon Tong to explain the matter.

To said the allegations pointed to possible collusion between the former ICAC chief and mainland officials and cast doubts on how Tong secured his current appointment.

“These [allegations] raise suspicions that Tong may have used the gifts and banquets to foster guanxi with mainland officials in order to seek their recommendations on his bid for the CPPCC post,” To said.

He also said the allegations had tarnished the agency’s image and hurt its morale.

The current ICAC commissioner Simon Peh Yun-lu said he could not confirm how many times his predecessor Tong had treated mainland liaison officials to banquets. But he pledged to check documents to find out.

Peh also said he had never dined with mainland liaison officials or given them gifts since he took over from Tong in July last year.

Last week, the audit report revealed two other cases of overspending on lavish meals and gifts by Tong during his five-year tenure.

Several pan-democrat lawmakers have said they are considering using Legco’s powers and privileges ordinance to start an inquiry.

Tong has not responded to any of the allegations made in the Ming Pao article.