CY Leung issues stern warning as Democrats promise to follow through with UGL investigation
Former chief executive issues 17-page letter saying he ‘reserves all rights to pursue proper legal recourse … to protect his reputation’
Former Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying issued another strongly worded legal letter on Monday warning of further action against Democratic Party members after they vowed to push ahead with an investigation into a HK$50 million (US$6.4 million) payment he received from an Australian engineering firm during his term as the city’s chief executive.
Leung sent out the 17-page letter through his lawyers, a day after the Democrats said they would set up a committee to manage the HK$2.2 million they raised through a crowdfunding drive, which would be used to consult international experts on how to take the case forward.
The former chief executive had already threatened to take legal action more than two weeks ago when they first launched the crowdfunding campaign.
The letter, sent to lawmakers Lam Cheuk-ting and Andrew Wan Siu-kin, former legislator Albert Ho Chun-yan and barrister Senia Ng Sze-nok, accused the four of spreading false and misleading information on the internet.
Leung “reserves all his rights to pursue proper legal recourse in Hong Kong and in other jurisdictions … in order to protect his reputation,” the letter read, citing legal proceedings under the Defamation Ordinance.
The controversy stemmed from the deal Leung struck after Australian engineering firm UGL’s 2011 purchase of DTZ, a property services company once listed in Britain, of which he was a director.
As part of the takeover, he agreed not to form or join a rival firm and to help promote the company. He received part of the HK$50 million after taking up chief executive’s post in 2012.
However, he did not declare the payment – which was agreed on before he started the job – to the Executive Council.
The Democrats have urged Leung to disclose the written consent by then DTZ chairman Tim Melville-Ross over the deal to ease public concerns.
In a separate statement issued on Monday, Leung said Melville-Ross had given consent on behalf of the DTZ board for him to negotiate the terms of the UGL agreement in a November 2011 email. He claimed the authenticity of the email had been examined by his lawyers and submitted to the relevant investigative agency.
Leung – now a vice-chairman of China’s top political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference – also said he had “no responsibility” to disclose the communication and meeting minutes he had with third parties.
But Lam said the information Leung provided was not helpful.
“We have been demanding that he disclose the records, but now he is only claiming his lawyers are satisfied with the document’s [authenticity],” Lam said. “He should have made them public in response to the doubts members of the public have.”
The Democrats would follow through with the investigation, he promised.
“The 17-page letter has showed that Leung has taken our allegations seriously, which is a good thing,” Lam said, adding they would pass the letter to their legal team.
A Legislative Council committee was set up to probe the saga, but Leung – who suggested in the statement that the effort might end in a mess – was slammed by the committee for being “uncooperative” last November.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption has been investigating the matter since 2014.
In February, the Department of Justice said it had still not decided whether to prosecute Leung. At the time, reports had surfaced that the department was on the verge of dropping the case.