Former TVB manager Stephen Chan and assistant face guilty verdicts in bribery charge over HK$112,000 TV show payment
Former TVB general manager Stephen Chan Chi-wan and his former assistant were yesterday ordered to be found guilty of bribery following the Department of Justice's successful bid to overturn the pair's earlier acquittal.
Chan, 55, and Edthancy Tseng Pei-kun, 33, have twice been cleared of three graft charges after a District Court judge accepted Chan's argument he did not need to declare receipt of payment for outside work to his employer. But last month the Department of Justice filed a second appeal.
Handing down the ruling, Court of Appeal vice-president Mr Justice Wally Yeung Chun-kuen said the last decision - which came after the department won the first appeal in having the case be remitted to the District Court - "had neither legal nor factual basis".
He ordered the lower court to convict and sentence the pair on one count of agents conspiring to accept advantages. This case centres on an episode of Chan's talk show Be My Guest, which took place at Olympian City in Tai Kok Tsui on New Year's Eve 2009.
Despite the show being produced and broadcast by TVB, the mall paid Chan HK$112,000 through a company run by Tseng.
Yeung wrote in his judgment that trial judge Mr Justice Poon Siu-tung had erred in ruling that since TVB had granted Chan permission to take up outside jobs numerous times, he would have been given the green light had he applied in this case.
He also pointed out that the 18 outside jobs for which Chan was paid between 2008 and 2010 should not be likened to the one in question.
He wrote that if it was not for TVB, the show Chan hosted at Olympian City would not be able to reach the mass audience that it did. "It would only attract shoppers there," he wrote.
READ MORE: Judge ‘did not see sufficient evidence to acquit TVB manager accused of taking HK$112,000 bribe’, Hong Kong court hears
"Chan would also not get the payment as offered by Olympian City," he added, saying it was the first time Chan had taken up a job as an agent of the broadcaster. Yeung also noted that the trial judge had previously accepted "reasonable excuse" - including that TVB was aware of Chan's outside jobs but had never raised an issue - as a defence.
"[A defendant] has to demonstrate that he has done all he could to comply with what has been asked by the law ... Otherwise, the court will not find he has a 'reasonable excuse'," he wrote.
Yeung granted Chan and Tseng bail of HK$100,000 on condition that they would not leave Hong Kong. Both will appear at the District Court on November 13 and face a maximum sentence of seven years' imprisonment.
The pair were acquitted in the first trial in 2011 and in another two years later, after the Department of Justice won an appeal to have the case retried at the District Court.