HK's ex-leader claims trial over graft charges

Tsang, seen here leaving court yesterday with his wife, Selina, was charged over his alleged failure to disclose plans to lease a luxury flat owned by a major investor in a broadcaster seeking a licence. He also allegedly failed to declare that an ar
Tsang, seen here leaving court yesterday with his wife, Selina, was charged over his alleged failure to disclose plans to lease a luxury flat owned by a major investor in a broadcaster seeking a licence. He also allegedly failed to declare that an architect he proposed for a government award was hired as an interior designer for the flat.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

HONG KONG • Hong Kong's former leader, Donald Tsang, who ended his term in disgrace after accepting favours from tycoons, has pleaded not guilty to misconduct charges in the latest high-profile corruption case to hit the city.

Tsang, 71, held the leadership post of chief executive for seven years from 2005 and is the highest-ranking Hong Kong official to face a corruption trial.

He had been under investigation by the city's Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) since he left office in June 2012.

Tsang is charged with two counts of misconduct in public office.

Tsang spoke briefly in court yesterday, saying, "I plead not guilty" to both charges.

Magistrate Jason Wan then referred the case to the High Court for trial - a date has yet to be set.

Tsang was released on bail and did not speak to reporters when he left the city's Eastern Court.

The charges relate to Tsang's alleged failure to disclose his plans to lease a luxury flat in Shenzhen which was owned by a major investor in a broadcaster seeking a licence from the Hong Kong government, the ICAC said. Tsang also allegedly failed to declare that an architect he proposed for a government award was employed as an interior designer for the flat. He said previously he had "every confidence" he would be exonerated.

The case comes less than a year after property tycoon Thomas Kwok and the government's former deputy leader, Rafael Hui, were jailed for graft after Hui being found guilty of taking bribes from Kwok and Kwok's brother, Raymond.

While serving as chief secretary for administration, Hui was Tsang's deputy from 2005 to 2007.

Tsang was knighted by Queen Elizabeth for his public service under the British colonial administration before Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule in 1997.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2015, with the headline 'HK's ex-leader claims trial over graft charges'. Print Edition | Subscribe