Hong Kong Legco panel calls city’s ex-leader CY Leung ‘uncooperative’ as probe into HK$50m payment intensifies
Democratic Party member to raise UGL payment saga with anti-graft authorities during UK visit
Former Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying was called “uncooperative” on Wednesday by a Legislative Council committee that is investigating a HK$50 million payment he received from an Australian firm for possible corruption.
Leung agreed to the payment before his 2012 election as chief executive, but received the money during his tenure, which ended on June 30 this year. He was promised the money as a director of a company, formerly listed in Britain, that the Australian firm had acquired.
Leung is now vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the country’s top advisory body.
The criticism against Leung came a day after Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said he would report the case to Britain’s corruption-fighting agency.
Leung had only provided legislators with information about the payment that was already public, such as Legco meeting minutes and earlier statements he issued through a law firm, said pro-establishment lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun, the chairman of the select committee.
“Leung has said he would fully cooperate with us when he was the chief executive,” Tse said, accusing Leung of reneging on his promise.
He added that government agencies, including the Inland Revenue Department, had also snubbed the committee by not giving any “positive reply” to their requests for information.
Despite Leung rejected their invitations, the committee would again ask him to attend hearings and provide more documents, Tse said. The committee would decide on its next move if they had not heard from Leung by the end of the month.
The committee was set up at the behest of pan-democrats last year to look into the HK$50 million Leung received from the Australian engineering firm UGL following its 2011 purchase of DTZ, a real estate services company once listed in Britain. Leung served DTZ as a director.
The deal was made two days before Leung resigned from DTZ and the completion of the takeover. It stipulated that he would receive the money in two instalments, in 2012 and 2013.
Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said he planned to raise the matter to the International Corruption Unit during a visit to Britain on Friday.
“Leung received the sum from UGL to help UGL acquire DTZ, of which he was a director,” Lam said on Tuesday. “This could have harmed the interests of DTZ’s small shareholders.”
DTZ was delisted from the London Stock Exchange in 2011, a day after it was formally sold to UGL.
The lawmaker claimed there was no information suggesting DTZ’s shareholders had been told about the dealings.
UGL and Leung maintained the payment was to prevent him from forming or joining a rival firm within two years. However, Leung did not declare the payment to his cabinet, the Executive Council.
“I hope Britain can conduct a thorough investigation,” Lam added.
While Leung said DTZ’s senior management had been aware of the negotiations, the company’s administrator, Ernst and Young, had said it “had no detailed knowledge” of the deal.
Lam was due to attend the annual Westminster Conference discussing politics in London next week and planned to head to Britain this Friday to file the complaints.
The International Corruption Unit is a department under the British National Crime Agency that investigates serious criminal allegations of bribery and corruption committed either by a UK-based person or company or in any foreign jurisdiction in the world that currently receives international development aid from the country.
Lam urged Leung to disclose more information to the select committee and said he would consider seeking endorsement from the full council to summon Leung before the committee.
The UGL saga returned to the public spotlight in May after it emerged that Leung had intervened behind the scenes in the Legco probe through pro-establishment lawmaker Holden Chow Ho-ding.