Hong Kong housing minister ‘unaware’ of illegal structures at home of justice chief’s husband
Frank Chan Fan responds to controversy over structures at home of new Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah and her husband and neighbour Otto Poon Lok-to
Hong Kong’s housing minister has said he was unaware of suspected illegal structures at the home of his engineer friend Otto Poon Lok-to, husband of the city’s new justice chief, despite “two or three” visits to his property.
The news came as Frank Chan Fan was revealed by the media on Tuesday that he served as a witness to Poon’s marriage to Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah in 2016, nuptials that were made official by former justice chief Elsie Leung Oi-sie.
Poon and Cheng – who has been in office for two days – have both been accused of having unauthorised structures in their respective but adjacent three-storey houses at Tuen Mun’s Villa De Mer.
“I’ve been to Poon’s house about two or three times but have never paid any particular attention to the situation in the [house] because when I’m there, we are mainly chatting … the focus is not on the building,” said the minister.
“I did not notice and was unaware throughout this course of events, nor did we ever discuss the topic of the said unauthorised building works.”
Buildings Department officials began a probe on Tuesday into the suspected illegal structures at Cheng’s home, which reportedly include a basement, rooftop glass house and garden pool.
Cheng said they existed at the time she bought the property.
Land Registry records show that Cheng bought her house in 2008 for HK$26 million, while Poon bought his in 2012 for HK$27 million.
The two divorcees married in December 2016 at Sky 100, the 100th floor observation deck at the International Commerce Centre in Kowloon, according to records.
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Chan signed off on their marriage certificate as an official witness, while Basic Law Committee vice-chair and ex-justice secretary and Elsie Leung Oi-sie officiated the ceremony.
Cheng, 59, had been a senior counsel since 2000 and former chairwoman of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre. She is also a chartered engineer.
Poon, 78, and his ex-wife Kay Kan Lai-kwan divorced in 2009 after she discovered that Poon was in a long-term relationship with an employee named Queenie Law.
After prolonged legal battles, the Court of Final Appeal in 2014 ruled that Kan, then 75, would get a divorce payout worth more than HK$766 million, about half of Poon’s HK$1.5 billion family trust.