Thu, Jun 15, 2017 - Page 5 News List

HK tycoon and ex-deputy leader lose corruption appeal

AFP, HONG KONG

Hong Kong property tycoon Thomas Kwok (郭炳江) and former Hong Kong chief secretary Rafael Hui (許仕仁) are to serve out their jail terms after their final appeal bids against graft convictions were dismissed yesterday.

The pair were found guilty of corruption in 2014 after a trial over a cash-for-favors scandal.

In a written judgement, the Court of Final Appeal ruled that they had been “properly convicted of the offense of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office.”

Kwok had been on bail since July last year, but is now to be back behind bars.

Hui, 69, is the highest-ranking official in Hong Kong’s history to be found guilty of taking bribes.

The seven-month trial centered on about HK$34 million (US$4.36 million at the curretn exchange rate) in handouts, which the prosecution said were made to Hui by Kwok and his billionaire brother Raymond Kwok (郭炳聯), to be their “eyes and ears” in government.

Hui was jailed for seven-and-a-half years in December 2014, while 65-year-old Thomas Kwok was sentenced to five years.

They lost an initial appeal bid in February last year before going to the Court of Final Appeal.

The case shocked the territory and deepened anger over cozy ties between officialdom and big business.

Hui and Thomas Kwok are to serve out their sentences in the maximum security Stanley Prison.

Raymond Kwok was cleared of all charges during the 2014 trial.

The judgement said that Hui had been in “golden fetters” after he accepted a payment of HK$8.5 million shortly before he became deputy leader, when it was already known he would take up the position.

It added that the payment had been made to ensure an “ongoing inclination” on the part of Hui toward the Kwoks’ company.

Hong Kong has been seen as relatively graft-free, but new cases have fueled public suspicions over links between authorities and business leaders.

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