Hong Kong’s former ICAC commissioner Timothy Tong Hin-ming will face no further criminal investigation over lavish spending on food and gifts, the graft-buster announced on Wednesday afternoon. There would be no criminal proceedings or further investigations into Tong, its statement said. The decision followed legal advice given by the director of public prosecutions. Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung set out the main reasons leading to the decision. #HongKong ex-ICAC chief Timothy Tong cleared of bribery allegation: Dept of Justice @SCMP_News pic.twitter.com/qKgywOkftR — Stuart Lau (@stuart_lau) January 27, 2016 <!--//--><![CDATA[// ><!--\n\n\n//--><!]]> Tong was found to have used public funds to host meals and entertainment for mainland officials, joined overseas duty visits that included sightseeing activities, and offered gifts to mainland officials. The justice department said that there was no clear and convincing evidence to establish that Tong had sought to dishonestly conceal the actual cost of his entertaining by his not including the cost of separately purchased wine or liquor. “With respect to the purchase of hard liquor, it is noted that there were neither regulations nor internal rules within the ICAC prohibiting the consumption or purchase of hard liquor including Maotai during Mr Tong’s tenure,” the department said in a statement. “It is also noted that even before his tenure, there had been occasions of serving hard liquor at official functions.” “It is unfortunate that the relevant rules and regulations in this regard at the time were not clear,” the department said. READ MORE: Surge in corruption complaints in Hong Kong as trust grows in ICAC Yuen said the applicable internal ICAC rules, which had since been revamped, made it difficult to prosecute Tong. The department also ruled out criminal liability for his overseas trips that included sightseeing, saying: “The evidence shows that the sightseeing activities were mainly decided by the hosts and the details were only made known to the ICAC very shortly before or even during the visits.” Meanwhile, incumbent ICAC commissioner Simon Peh Yun-lu also met with journalists at the watchdog’s office in North Point shortly after the decision was announced. He said an internal disciplinary probe to investigate breaches by other ICAC members would be completed soon. But Peh shied away from mentioning the number of staff involved in the investigation and its content. Since part of Tong’s tenure overlapped with his status as a civil servant, Peh said, the ICAC would refer the case to the Civil Services Bureau. Simon Peh said ICAC's Operation Review Committee agree with findings, legal advice sought and thus no prosecutions pic.twitter.com/JLTd5McIzq — Chris Lau (@hkchrislau) January 27, 2016 <!--//--><![CDATA[// ><!--\n\n\n//--><!]]> Asked if he was disappointed, Peh said: “We cannot force things to happen.” Peh insisted the investigation was comprehensive – encompassing 30 folders, 100 witnesses and 8,000 documents – and he added that ICAC investigators went as far as probing into possible misuse of flight mileage in relation to the case, even though it had not previously been alleged against Tong. Peh and Yuen insisted the decision was free of any “political consideration”. Asked if the case was deliberately announced before the annual National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference meetings in March, Director of Public Prosecutions Keith Yeung Kar-hung said: “I wasn’t even aware when the meeting would take place.” Tong was appointed a CPPCC member in 2013, raising questions that the naming amounted to a “deferred benefit” as a result of the lavish entertainment he provided the mainlanders. Peh reiterated that all members of the ICAC, including him, would have to comply with the tightened regulations amended two years ago. READ MORE: Pro-Beijing lawyer Kennedy Wong faces ICAC bribery charges Tong was commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption between 2007 and 2012. He was accused of breaking rules with his lavish hospitality spending. A Legislative Council report from July 2014 concluded Tong had “tarnished the reputation” of the ICAC by wining and dining mainland officials and handing over expensive gifts. The 126-page document – which came just months after a strongly-worded public accounts committee report – highlighted “unduly close contacts” between Tong and those officials. Another probe, by an independent review committee, found rule breaches on 42 occasions in his five-year tenure, two of which were subjects of the criminal inquiry which ended on Wednesday. The 81-page report, published in September 2013, detailed Tong’s lavish spending on official entertainment, gifts and duty visits. The four-member committee, headed by Executive Council member Chow Chung-kong, studied 899 events and receptions hosted by the ICAC between 2007 and 2012. It also looked into HK$1.3 million of gifts and 413 duty visits that cost a total of HK$12.6 million. Of 206 meals Tong hosted, and charged under the heading of official entertainment, 77 exceeded the spending ceiling. Only two per cent of the 460 meals hosted by other ICAC officers overspent.