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Donald Tsang

Former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang ‘at businessmen’s disposal for selfish gain’ corruption trial hears

Prosecution concludes its case by telling jury not to believe former chief was a ‘victim of a series of unfortunate events’

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 October, 2017, 7:33pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 October, 2017, 9:56pm

Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was not “a victim of a series of unfortunate events”, but was in fact willing to be at rich businessmen’s disposal for his own “selfish gain”, prosecutors said on the second and last day of their closing speech.

They concluded their case on Wednesday against the former Hong Kong leader, who was chief executive from 2005 to 2012, clearing the way for Tsang’s lawyers to offer his defence.

Tsang, 73, has denied one count of accepting an advantage between 2010 and 2012 as chief executive.

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Prosecutor David Perry QC told the jury he expected Tsang’s lawyers to blame any appearance of wrongdoing, including Tsang’s ties with all the shareholders of a radio station he is accused of taking a bribe from, on “coincidences”.

But he told them the prosecution had a more “realistic” and “simple” explanation.

Perry told the High Court on Wednesday: “The plain fact is, I regret to say, the defendant is willing to place himself at rich businessmen’s disposal for personal and selfish gain.”

So the true verdict would be, “I regret to say, one of guilty,” he told the jury.

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Tsang is accused of accepting from Wave Media bespoke refurbishment worth HK$3.8 million (US$487,000) for a mainland penthouse, and in return, being “favourably disposed” to the local broadcaster.

Bill Wong Cho-bau, the station’s major shareholder, owned the penthouse and paid the renovation bill.

The prosecution said another shareholder, David Li Kwok-po, chairman of the Bank of East Asia, appeared to have paid Tsang HK$350,000 and picked up Tsang’s bodyguard’s travel expenses during a trip to Europe in 2010.

Radio personality Albert Cheng King-hon, another shareholder, introduced internationally acclaimed designer Barrie Ho Chow-lai to work on the penthouse in Shenzhen, which Tsang intended to move to after retirement.

On Wednesday, Perry noted that out of “all the people in the world”, the defendant happened to be the one given such an offer by the broadcaster, just around the time he granted three applications, including one for a potentially lucrative digital broadcasting licence, to Wave Media.

“How does it all fit in together?” Perry asked, leaving the question with the jury, before taking his seat.

The court heard Tsang never disclosed that he rented the penthouse at East Pacific Garden from Wong, until the deal fell under media scrutiny in 2012.

Perry said Tsang wanted to keep the deal secret, knowing it was a conflict of interest.

Tsang’s lawyers will make their closing speech on Thursday before Mr Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai, revealing the former leader’s defence for the first time.