Wednesday, April 23, 2014   




Audit chief in deal on judicial review

Albert Wong and Wendy Leung

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Former buildings director Leung Chin- man, who had been singled out by the Audit Commission for his role in the controversial granting of land for the Grand Promenade residential complex, has dropped his anticipated judicial review against the director of audit.

Justice Michael Hartmann said in the High Court Wednesday Director of Audit Benjamin Tang Kwok-bun and Leung have come to an agreement to discontinue the legal proceedings, and that the review has been allowed subject to further developments.

The consent to abort the judicial review comes a fortnight after Leung was seemingly absolved of responsibility by a government-appointed independent inquiry.

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Tang welcomed the end of the proceedings and wished to "forget about the past and look ahead so we can focus on our own work."

He refused to say if Leung's decision is related to the government- appointed inquiry.

Lawmaker Andrew Cheng Kar-foo, a member of the Legislative Council Public Accounts Committee, hoped the issue would not disappear just because the judicial review has come to an end, saying questions remain unanswered.

The Audit Commission report, released last November, accused Leung of not conferring with other government departments before exercising his discretionary power to exclude the land area of a transport terminus from being calculated into the gross floor area of Henderson Land's Grand Promenade site.

Henderson Land won the tender for the site with a land premium of HK$2.43 billion in January 2001. Six months later, the company applied to exclude the terminus from the gross floor area in its building plan.

A Building Authority conference chaired by Leung discussed the request in August 2001 and two months later exercised its discretionary power to exclude the transport terminus from the gross floor area calculation.

Henderson Land was subsequently granted an additional 10,700 square meters for the project.

With the extra land, Henderson boosted the gross floor area of the Grand Promenade project to 135,451 sq m, from the original plan of 85,720 sq m - and doubled the number of apartments from 1,008 to 2,020 in five residential blocks ranging from 61 to 64 storeys.

A report released by the independent inquiry on May 10 said Leung acted upon precedent, and used his discretionary power properly. The Civil Service Bureau said it would not launch disciplinary action against Leung.

Leung had sought a judicial review against the director of audit last December saying he had acted beyond his powers, making damning findings, rather than recommendations.

Tang denied the accusations.


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