Donald Tsang Yam-kuen may have to pay millions of dollars in court costs if prosecutors have their way, but they will not seek to put the former Hong Kong leader on trial for the third time on a bribery charge. Despite deciding against a third trial, David Perry QC asked Tsang to pay a third of the legal costs incurred when he was convicted of misconduct in February. Perry said Tsang “had given no assistance whatsoever” to anti-graft investigators, which increased the cost of the case. A lawyer estimated this would amount to HK$4 million (US$513,000), a third of HK$12 million he believed prosecutors spent on the two trials. Tsang’s own legal team, he said, would have charged him about HK$25 million. Getting Donald Tsang back in the dock for second retrial will be hard for Hong Kong prosecutors, legal experts say Mr Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai granted the prosecutor’s application over the charge and gave the defence time to prepare a reply regarding legal costs. Tsang left the court without comment. Perry announced on Monday that it had been decided, after “careful and deliberate thought”, to leave the bribery charge against Tsang on file at the High Court. While he stopped short of saying they were dropping the case, that was the effect as it meant the prosecution was handing control over to the court. Despite a change in strategy, prosecutors come up short again in former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang’s bribery trial However, the prosecutor did not completely rule out a retrial based on the bribery charge because Tsang was currently appealing against his earlier conviction. A “change of circumstance” or “new evidence” might arise, Perry said, adding that any further trial would not go ahead without the High Court’s approval or the approval of the Court of Appeal. Tsang, 73, had found himself in legal limbo on Friday when an eight-member jury was unable to reach a majority decision on whether to find him guilty of corruption. That marked the second time Tsang’s trial ended in a hung jury over the same charge stemming from free renovation work he allegedly accepted from a local radio station’s owner. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison in February after being found guilty of misconduct in public office, but a split decision on the bribery charge prompted the government to seek a second trial. The former top official has been out on bail since April pending an appeal. Tsang, who led Hong Kong between 2005 and 2012, had denied one count of accepting an advantage as the chief executive during the last two years of his tenure. A timeline of former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang’s legal journey He was accused of accepting free, custom refurbishment worth HK$3.8 million (US$487,000) of a three-storey penthouse in Shenzhen, where he planned to retire. In return, prosecutors said, he became “favourably disposed” to a local radio station, Wave Media, the majority shareholder of which was Bill Wong Cho-bau, who owned the penthouse and paid for the renovation. During the trial in February, Tsang’s lawyers claimed their client had paid a legitimate rent of 800,000 yuan (HK$940,000) in 2010, even though the prosecutors said the lease was signed in 2012 with a receipt dating the same year. Based on bank records, the prosecutors also alleged that Bank of East Asia chairman David Li Kwok-po, who was also a Wave Media shareholder, had paid Tsang HK$350,000. Legacy tainted even if Tsang is innocent Perry, on Monday, recalled Tsang’s commitment at the time to render “full co-operation” with any investigations, when he was grilled by the media and legislators. However, throughout the investigation, Tsang had never offered any explanation for his relationship with Wong and Li, and was even “misleading” on some matters, the prosecutor added. “How difficult it was to piece together the puzzle with no assistance to the investigators whatsoever,” he said, claiming that Tsang had driven up the costs of the trial. Tsang’s lawyer, Selwyn Yu SC, requested time to prepare his counter argument, as he was not involved in the February trial, in which British barrister Clare Montgomery QC, local senior counsel Peter Duncan and counsel Derek Chan formed the defence team. University of Hong Kong lecturer Eric Cheung Tat-ming said the prosecution, if it was to press for a third trial, would have to demonstrate that it either had strong evidence, or that the offence in question was not just serious, but one of “extreme gravity”. It would have to be a case of homicide or terrorism, he said. There had been speculation as to whether the Independent Commission Against Corruption would take follow-up action against Wong and Li, after Tsang was found guilty of the misconduct charge. Cheung said he believed the latest hung jury made no difference, as the ICAC would have acted if it had gathered sufficient evidence, and last week’s ruling should not affect Tsang’s ongoing appeal.