HK tycoon loses appeal against graft conviction

Tycoon Thomas Kwok getting into a prison van outside Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal yesterday after his graft conviction was upheld.
Tycoon Thomas Kwok getting into a prison van outside Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal yesterday after his graft conviction was upheld.PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG • The top court in Hong Kong yesterday upheld a graft conviction against a property tycoon, putting an end to one of the most high-profile corruption cases in the Asian financial hub.

The five-year-long legal battle exposed the cosy ties between government officials and powerful tycoons.

The Court of Final Appeal found Thomas Kwok, the former co-chairman of Hong Kong's largest real estate company Sun Hung Kai Properties, the city's former No. 2 official Rafael Hui and two others guilty of the charge of "conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office".

Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma said of Kwok, who had been out on bail during the appeal: "It will now be necessary for him to return to prison."

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Kwok, 65, was sentenced to five years in jail and fined HK$500,000 (S$88,000) in 2014. He has already served part of that sentence.

A written summary of the judgment said that once Hui had accepted a HK$8.5 million payment, "his independence when he assumed office would be hopelessly compromised and he could not properly discharge his duties nor be trusted to do so".

"The abuse of public trust contemplated by the conspirators was clear," the statement added.

Hui, who is serving his 71/2-year sentence, was chief secretary and led the civil service from 2005 to 2007. During that period he was involved in important policy matters concerning two large property developments in which Sun Hung Kai Properties had "substantial interests", the summary noted.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2017, with the headline 'HK tycoon loses appeal against graft conviction'. Print Edition | Subscribe