Luxury hotel stay raises questions

Top News | Phoenix Un 12 Jan 2017

Ex-chief executive Donald Tsang Yam- kuen may have taken a holiday with Wave Media investor Bill Wong Cho- bau in a luxury mainland hotel "a week or so" after the company was granted a digital broadcasting license by the Executive Council, the prosecution told the High Court.

On the second day of his opening statement, Queen's Counsel David Perry said Tsang as the chief executive, together with the Executive Council, officially granted the digital audio broadcasting license to Wave Media in the Exco meeting on March 22, 2011.

On April 11, 2011, Tsang wrote a letter - with a copy sent to Wong - to Wong Shun-yuen of the Regency Hotel Shantou, whom Perry alleged was related to Bill Wong, expressing his gratitude for the "enthusiastic and hearty hospitality during [our] visit to Shantou days ago."

"My wife and I are blissfully pleased with the sumptuously decorated Regency Hotel which offers services and food meeting the highest standard of quality," Tsang wrote in the letter.

Bill Wong was also the boss of East Pacific Group Limited, which owned the three-story East Pacific Garden flat in Shenzhen which Tsang negotiated to rent in the same period, the court heard.

Perry said that Wong Shun-yuen was not only connected to Bill Wong's East Pacific Group ,but his signature also appeared in documents of Bill Wong's Bank of China account.

According to travel records, Tsang and his wife Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei left Hong Kong for the mainland on March 31, 2011, while Wong left a day earlier, Perry said.

The Tsang couple returned to Hong Kong on April 4, while Wong returned on April 2.

"They spent time together - a week or so after the Executive Council made the decision confirming that Wave Media will get the broadcasting license," Perry said.

The court also heard that, after Exco approved in principle to grant the license to Wave Media on November 2, 2010, Tsang and his wife - together with another Wave Media shareholder, David Li Kwok-po - returned to Hong Kong and arrived within seconds of each other on November 7 at the Hong Kong and Macau Ferry Terminal.

Perry told the court that one of the addresses on the lease agreement for the Shenzhen flat was that of one of Tsang's two sons.

Perry also said Tsang had taken part in the drafting of the Code of Conduct of Principal Officials under the Accountability System in 2002 when he was chief secretary for administration.

The code states that officials must observe the highest standard of integrity at all times and ensure there is no potential conflict of interest between duties and private interest.

When in September 2010 then-Exco member Lau Wong-fat declared direct ownership of properties but not those owned by his companies, Tsang stated that the declaration requirement should be strictly interpreted.

Another Exco member, Ronald Arculli - who was also a Wave shareholder - declared the interest and withdrew from the Exco discussion.

Since March 2005, when Donald Tsang presided at Exco as acting chief executive, Perry said he had made 69 ad-hoc declarations of interest in 44 meetings until 2012 - mostly his membership or status as patron of organizations.

On November 2, 2010 - the same day Exco approved in principle granting the license to Wave - Tsang declared during a discussion on whether private land in Sheung Wan should be developed that he was the patron of the Institute of Architects.

Perry pointed out that the lease agreement on the Shenzhen flat was signed on February 21, 2012 - one day after local media first reported that Tsang attended a casino banquet in Macau.

"Prosecution says the reason is simple: it's panic. The defendant knows his conduct is under scrutiny," Perry claimed.

On August 10, 2012, the agreement lease on the flat was terminated and Selina Tsang agreed to forfeit rent of 800,000 yuan.

"You get a perfectly good lease, you pay market rate, but you give up RMB800,000. It's an attempt by the defendant to distance himself from the property," said Perry.

Tsang, 72, has pleaded not guilty to a count of "chief executive accepting an advantage" and two counts of misconduct in public office.

The hearing before Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai continues this morning.

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