Radical Hong Kong lawmaker’s undisclosed fee severely hurt public trust in Legco, court told
Prosecutors accuse “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung of wilful non-disclosure of HK$250,000 payment
A veteran pan-democratic lawmaker was on Monday accused of severely undermining public confidence in the Hong Kong legislature by deliberately concealing his receipt of HK$250,000 from a media tycoon.
Opening their case at the District Court, prosecutors revealed how Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying had funnelled HK$2.05 million to “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and his party, the League of Social Democrats, in multiple payments from April 2012 to November 2014.
Among them was a cashier’s order of HK$250,000 deposited into Leung’s account on May 22, 2012, which prosecutors said he had never disclosed, declared or registered with the Legislative Council secretariat or any committees – as required by Legco’s Rules of Procedure – until he was arrested last June 23.
This was despite Leung regularly registering with the council clerk other funds he had received, and declaring his personal interests during meetings on five occasions since he was first elected in 2004.
On January 22, 2014, Leung voted on a Legco motion on safeguarding editorial independence after lawmakers raised concerns that commercial organisations were facing political pressure to retract advertisements from newspapers such as Apple Daily. But he did not disclose his acceptance of the HK$250,000.
Reports later surfaced about Leung pocketing donations from Lai, but in radio and television interviews, the lawmaker still did not mention the HK$250,000. Nor did he disclose the sum while he was being investigated by the council’s Committee on Members’ Interests.
Senior assistant director of public prosecutions Anna Lai Yuen-kee SC said the non-disclosure was a deliberate act to conceal the payment.
“[The defendant] stripped the public of their right to know about a real, potential or apparent conflict of interest in pocketing that payment during his office as a lawmaker,” Lai told judge Alex Lee Wan-tang.
“[He] severely undermined public confidence in the effective exercise of duties by lawmakers.”
Leung, 60, earlier pleaded not guilty to one count of misconduct in public office.
Under the Rules of Procedure, new lawmakers must register all remunerated employments, donations, financial sponsorships and material benefits within 14 days of filling a vacant seat, while re-elected members must do so no later than the first meeting.
Members are also prohibited from moving any motion or amendment relating to a matter in which they may have a pecuniary interest, or speak on any such matters, unless the nature of interest is disclosed.
The court heard that the HK$250,000 was part of a transaction issued from Lai’s HSBC account when he wrote a cheque for HK$9,500,200, on April 17, 2012.
The payment was deposited into Lai’s Comitex Knitters account. Another cheque for the same amount was issued from this account to Lai’s aide, Mark Simon.
The next day, Simon purchased four cashier’s orders amounting to HK$9.5 million for four political parties, which included HK$1 million for Leung’s party.
The HK$1 million was then split into three cashier’s orders, and one order of HK$250,000 was subsequently deposited into Leung’s account.
Leung then transferred the money in eight instalments to his Legco office accountant.
The trial continues.