Rafael Hui jailed for seven-and-a-half years; Thomas Kwok locked up for five years

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 December, 2014, 11:10am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 December, 2014, 6:42pm

Former government number two, Rafael Hui Si-yan was today jailed for seven-and-a-half years, while property tycoon Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong was locked up for five years and fined HK$500,000, in a landmark ruling that closes a chapter of the highest-level corruption trial in Hong Kong's history.

A stern-looking Hui, who kept his head bowed as he was sentenced, was ordered to pay the Hong Kong government the sum of HK$11.182 million - equivalent to the bribe he was found guilty of taking.

Thomas Chan Kui-yuen was sentenced to six years in jail and was also fined HK$500,000 for his part in the affair. Francis Kwan was jailed for five years.

Before jailing Hui, Mr Justice Andrew Macrae said it was "quite clear to me you were one of the instigators as well as the beneficiaries of these conspiracies".

He said: "To know the former number two in government has received bribes must be a deep disappointment to many people in Hong Kong.

"It is vitally important in these times the Hong Kong government and business community remain and are seen to remain corruption-free, particularly when the mainland is taking obvious steps to eradicate the cancer of corruption in their own jurisdiction.

 

As he locked up 63-year-old Kwok, former joint chairman of Sun Hung Kai Properties, Macrae said there was "​absolutely no doubt Mr Kwok is at heart a good ​ma​n and a sincere one whose work and altruism has touched the lives of many people​".

He told the defendant: "Your good works earned you a well deserved reputation as a genuinely motivated philanthropist​​."​ He was disqualified from becoming director of a company for five years.

After the sentences had been delivered Kwok said goodbye to his children. "We'll behave ourselves," 31-year-old Adam Kwok Kai-fai told his father through the glass separating the dock from the courtroom. His sister Noelle Kwok told her father to "fight on".

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Macrae described the sentencing of Kwok, Rafael Hui, 66, and the two others, following the months-long corruption trial, as the most difficult task in his job.

"It is particularly difficult when one is dealing with otherwise decent men who are not young but who have committed serious offences," said Macrae before passing sentence.

"Sentencing is an art and not a science. If it were a science it would no doubt be an easier exercise to conduct."

"It requires a judge to exercise a public duty in dealing effectively and consistently with serious crime, but also requires him to mitigate the harsh effect by acknowledging in an appropriate way personal circumstances of the individual defendants."

The case came to light in 2008 when ICAC received an anonymous letter accusing Thomas and Raymond Kwok of providing Hui with rent-free accommodation at Leighton Hill.

ICAC arrested and charged the defendants in 2012 with conspiracy to bribe Hui with millions of dollars for him to be "eyes and ears" in government.

The trial started in May this year but was adjourned for nearly a month after the first jury was dismissed.

Hui, was convicted of five out of eight charges, including misconduct in a public office, making him the highest-ranking official in Hong Kong's history to be convicted of taking bribes.

Thomas Kwok, 63, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.

The brothers' top aide Thomas Chan Kui-yuen, 68, and ex-stock exchange official Francis Kwan Hung-sang, 64, were each found guilty of two counts, including bribery. They were accused as acting as middlemen for the transactions.

Kwok's younger brother, Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, was acquitted of all his four charges.