Former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen abused his power while in office to further his personal interests by renting a luxury Shenzhen flat for his retirement in a classic conflict of interest and betrayal of public trust, the prosecutor told the Court of First Instance yesterday.
In opening statements, Queen's Counsel David Perry said before a nine- member jury that Tsang - the city's top official for seven years - had been negotiating about renting a 6,700-square- foot, three-story flat at East Pacific Garden in Shenzhen, which was owned by Wave Media's main investor Bill Wong Cho-bau.
Wave Media was later renamed Digital Broadcasting Corp.
"What people of Hong Kong did not know was that he was involved in negotiations with one of the owners of Wave Media for his own private purposes," Perry said. "He made decisions of commercial interest to the person who would make the house available to him."
Tsang has pleaded not guilty to two charges of misconduct in public office and a charge of accepting an advantage.
Decisions favorable to Wong that Tsang made were approval of the digital broadcasting license for Wong's company, return of its AM broadcasting license and for Arthur Li Kwok-cheung to exercise control of Digital Broadcasting Corp as a director and chairman of the company throughout the period 2010 to 2012, Perry said.
Li was a shareholder of Wave Media at that time but became chairman of the company despite being "a disqualified person" to prevent monopoly of media, the court heard.
Perry said it was important who got the license and who controlled the media, for which Tsang had the final say as chief executive and president of the Executive Council.
Perry showed the plans of the Shenzhen home that had a luxurious sitting room, lounges, gym, landscaped garden and library, a renovation dictated by Tsang and his wife, Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei.
The refurbishment of the flat, owned by Shenzhen East Pacific Group Limited under Wong's name, cost HK$3 million, which was all paid by a company owned by Wong.
It cost another HK$375,000 to hire Barrie Ho Chow-lai as interior designer of the flat, and the two installments were both paid by East Pacific (Holding) Ltd, also owned by Wong - and thus linked to Wave Media.
"Everything was being paid for -refurbishments, designer fees - by one of Wong's companies," Perry said.
By concealing the relations with Wong, Tsang betrayed the trust of Hongkongers, he added.
Perry said Ho or his subordinates had met Tsang's wife 14 times from January 18, 2011 to February 18, 2012 to discuss the decorations of the flat.
At an awards ceremony, Tsang pinned the Medal of Honor on Ho's chest.
"No one knew that the medal was given to the person designing the flat by a person who will live in the flat," Perry said.
"It was to make sure the flat was luxurious enough for a retired chief executive to live in."
The meetings with Ho stopped after the press revealed the existence of the flat.
The hearing before Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai continues today.