Probe team denied entry

Top News | Kelly Ip and Johnny Lo 2 Aug 2012

Buildings Department inspectors were yesterday denied entry to two flats that are said to be co-owned by the wife of the newly appointed development secretary and suspected to have been illegally subdivided.

One of the flats is in Hoi Hing Building in Tai Kok Tsui and the other at 136 Shanghai Street in Jordan.

If the allegations are true, it will be another huge blow to the government as development chief Paul Chan Mo-po "knew well in advance that he was being groomed for a government post" and should have put his house in order, a political analyst said.

However, a man, surnamed Wu, showed up at the flats last night and claimed responsibility for subdividing the apartments for rental purposes.

He said neither Chan nor his wife knew anything about this.

Chan issued a statement and said Harvest Charm Development, which is involved in the allegations, is owned by his wife, Frieda Hui Po-ming, her family members and friends. He was a director of the company but resigned in October 1997.

He also stated that, as the case involves a family member, the department will not report its work to him.

His wife also stated that although she is a stakeholder of the company, she is no longer a director, having resigned on July 1.

She said the company bought the two flats in 1994 and later rented them to the same tenant. But, as stated in the contracts, the two flats could not be let out to a subtenant.

She said the contracts ended last month and were not renewed, and that she had requested the company to retrieve the flats.

The attempt to inspect the flats was made following allegations that Chan's wife was working with a property company to rent out the subdivided units.

It is alleged that one of the flats has been subdivided into three units and the other into five.

One of the cubicles in Tai Kok Tsui is reported to be only 107 square feet in area, with a tiny kitchen and bathroom and faces a patio.

A Secondary Four student, who claims to be a tenant with his parents for the past year, said the monthly rent is around HK$2,000.

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