Hong Kong judge orders former city leader Donald Tsang to pay HK$4.6 million in court costs
Tsang, who served as chief executive from 2005 to 2012, must pay costs after judge says there were ‘special circumstances’ in his case
Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was ordered to pay HK$4.6 million (US$590,000) on Tuesday after a judge agreed with prosecutors that the former Hong Kong leader was uncooperative during their investigation into charges of bribery and misconduct.
The disgraced former chief executive, who served in office from 2005 to 2012, was sentenced in February last year to 20 months in prison after he was found guilty of one count of misconduct in public office and was acquitted of another misconduct charge.
Tsang faced a second trial in November after jurors in the February trial failed to return a verdict on a separate bribery charge. His retrial ended in a hung jury as well.
Although prosecutors decided not to press for a third trial on the bribery charge, they asked the court to order Tsang to pay for a third of HK$13.7 million it cost to mount a case, accusing the 73-year-old of failing to provide documents and other actions that delayed the investigation.
In handing down his ruling on Tuesday, Mr Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai said Tsang’s behaviour lacked truthfulness and was “far from cooperative”.
“As a result, an enormous amount of time and manpower had been put into the investigation unnecessarily on undeniable facts,” Chan wrote in his judgment. “I am of the view that there are special circumstances in this case that warrant the imposition of the cost … against the defendant.”
He added that his judgment was “based on the totally unnecessary costs which the taxpayer had to pay” as a result of Tsang’s refusal to cooperate.
Tsang was found guilty of misconduct for failing to disclose his negotiations over a three-storey penthouse belonging to a company chaired by businessman Bill Wong Cho-bau. That was when he approved various applications, including a digital audio broadcasting licence, for radio broadcaster Wave Media, of which Wong was a shareholder.
Prosecutors failed to convict him on allegations that he became “favourably disposed” to Wave Media over the luxury penthouse in Shenzhen.
Chan said that Tsang failed to live up to the pledge he made on a radio broadcast in 2012, when the accusations first came to light, that he would “definitely and fully cooperate” with the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
A penthouse, yachts and martial arts novels: everything you need to know about Donald Tsang’s bribery trial
Tsang refused to produce a lease of the penthouse until investigators threatened that they could use a warrant to seize the document. After the “misleading” documents were produced, Chan said, Tsang again failed to give any explanations for their “contradictions and discrepancies”.
Meanwhile, his wife, Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei, refused to sign and confirm on a witness statement.
These actions caused investigators to embark on a 2½ year inquiry to pour through bank accounts in a bid to establish the flow of transactions, according to the judgment.
Chan also questioned Tsang’s demeanour in court, saying the former leader refused to admit what appeared to be simple facts, such as when Tsang disputed Wong’s title of managing director.
Tsang has been free on bail since April last year pending an appeal against his misconduct charge. That appeal is expected to start next month.