Former HK leader Donald Tsang jailed 20 months for misconduct in public office: Other cases that made headlines

Former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang was jailed for 20 months on Wednesday for misconduct in public office, making him the most senior city official to serve time behind bars in a ruling some said reaffirmed the financial hub's vaunted rule of law.
Former Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang and his wife Selina arriving at the High Court in Hong Kong on Feb 20, 2017.
Former Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang and his wife Selina arriving at the High Court in Hong Kong on Feb 20, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

Hong Kong's former chief executive Donald Tsang became the city's highest-ranked official to be sent to jail.

His 20-month prison sentence on Wednesday (Feb 22) brings an ignominious end to what had been a stellar career in the civil service for Tsang, before and after Hong Kong's 1997 handover to Chinese rule. He was knighted by then outgoing British colonial rulers.

On Friday (Feb 17), Tsang was found guilty of failing to disclose his plans to lease a luxury apartment from a major investor in a broadcaster, which was later granted a licence from the government.


Tsang, 72, was acquitted on another misconduct charge which alleged he had failed to declare that an architect he proposed for a government award had been employed as an interior designer on the flat.

But the jury failed to reach a verdict on a bribery charge which alleged he had taken the redecoration and refurbishment of the apartment as a kickback. A retrial on that count is scheduled for September.

Here are other high-profile graft cases in Hong Kong:

1. Thomas Kwok and Rafael Hui

Former chief secretary Rafael Hui, and billionaire tycoon Thomas Kwok were found guilty of bribery and jailed in late 2014. PHOTOS: AFP

Tsang's ally and former chief secretary Rafael Hui, and billionaire tycoon Thomas Kwok, a former co-head of one of Asia's largest property companies, Sun Hung Kai, were found guilty of bribery and jailed in late 2014.

Kwok, 65, was granted bail on July 12, 2016, clearing the path to appeal his graft conviction over the scandal. The appeal hearing date is set for May 9, 2017.

Kwok was jailed in 2014 over a series of payments totalling HK$8.5 million (S$1.5 million) to the city's former deputy leader Hui. Hui was jailed for 7½ years on five graft charges.

The prosecution said Hui, 69, served as the "eyes and ears" in government for Sun Hung Kai, the city's biggest property developer.

2. Leung Kwok Hung

Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok Hung said his arrest had "political meaning". PHOTO: AFP

Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok Hung was charged in June 2016 with failing to declare a donation of HK$250,000 from Mr Jimmy Lai, the founder of Apple Daily newspaper and an outspoken critic of China.

The ICAC said Leung, 60, a member of Hong Kong's Legislative Council and a fierce China critic who frequently heckles officials, was charged with one count of misconduct in public office.

Leung had said his arrest had "political meaning", coming just months before the city held legislative elections in September 2016.

3. Warwick Reid

Hong Kong's former top commercial crime buster Warwick Reid was jailed for eight years in 1990 and ordered to surrender HK$12 million after he accepted bribes and thwarted investigations by the ICAC.

Reid, then 42, had fixed cases in return for rewards.

In a hearing on June 20, 1990, Reid admitted that in March 1989, he owned more than NZ$2.4 million (S$2.55 million) in cash, three parcels of land in Tauranga, New Zealand, and all the assets of the businesses known as the Reid Orchard and the Pickwick Orchard Partnership.

Reid fled Hong Kong in late 1989 while under investigation by the ICAC. He was extradicted from the Philippines in March 1990 and subsequently charged.

His eight-year prison sentence was later reduced to seven years on appeal, the South China Morning Post reported.

4.  Peter Fitzroy Godber

This case is considered ICAC’s first major victory against a corrupt police force in the early 70s.

Former police chief superintendent Peter Fitzroy Godber was charged with bribery and conspiracy after investigators linked him to bank accounts worth HK$4.3 million. A tip-off had been received about huge remittances sent to countries including Australia, Canada and Singapore. 

Embroiled in the scandal shortly before his early retirement in 1973, he fled to the United Kingdom.

He was extradited from the UK in 1975 and was subsequently sentenced to four years in jail.

 Sources: Reuters, AFP, South China Morning Post, Bloomberg