Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has admitted he did not declare he would be renting a penthouse from a mainland tycoon when discussing his firm's application for a broadcasting license at the Executive Council.
The chief executive's remarks yesterday came as he explained why and how he rented a luxury suite in Shenzhen from Wong Cho-bau for his retirement.
Wong is one of the principal investors in Digital Broadcasting Corp, which successfully applied for a license in March.
Tsang last week admitted to renting a suite in Donghai Garden, a luxury project in Futian district developed by Wong's East Pacific Holdings, as a retirement home after his term ends in June.
At the time the council was discussing DBC's license bid, he had yet to rent the flat, Tsang said.
"I believed it was not necessary to make the declaration and it did not affect the government's decision [to grant the license]," Tsang said.
The decision to grant the license to DBC was made by the Broadcasting Authority and the council had minimal involvement in the issue, he added.
Tsang also said Wong told him several years ago he wanted to renovate a private club in the luxury residential complex to turn it into a suite for rent.
"At that time, [my wife Selina Tsang Pou Siu- mei and I] expressed an interest to rent the suite," Tsang said, adding that the rent contract was finalized this month.
"But I told Wong he must rent the suite to me at the market rate," he said. "Even after we signed the contract, I asked him again whether the rent he charged is the market price and he said `yes."'
Wong yesterday took out a newspaper advertisement stating he rented out the suite to Tsang for around HK$1 million per year for three years, while the renovation cost was less than three million yuan (HK$3.69 million).
Tsang also rejected accusations that he is greedy for favors from tycoons, as he traveled by their private jets to Phuket and Japan and yachts to Macau.
Tsang said his wife and he paid HK$188,000 to charter a private jet to Japan in 2009.
They also paid HK$5,900 each to fly to Phuket this month and HK$500 each for a trip to Macau in April and again this month, he said.
Tsang's office yesterday rejected a report that he had hired a private jet to the Middle East in 2008.
The office said it was an official trip during which he led a high-level delegation of Trade Development Council members and business representatives to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates between January 25 and February 1 that year.
The entire delegation accepted an invitation by the Kuwaiti king to travel from Kuwait to Saudi Arabia on a jet arranged by him, and another invitation from a Saudi royal to travel on a jet provided by him from Dubai back to Hong Kong.