Jail looms for ex-official after misconduct ruling

Top News | Sophie Hui 15 Aug 2019

Former senior government official Wilson Fung Wing-yip has been found guilty of misconduct in public office for accepting HK$510,000 from his lover, Macau businesswoman Cheyenne Chan Ung-iok.

But Fung, 55, who was deputy secretary for economic development and labor, was acquitted of accepting an advantage as a public servant, District Court Judge Douglas Yau Tak-hong ruled yesterday.

Chan, 63, sister-in-law of casino mogul Stanley Ho Hung-sun, was acquitted of offering an advantage to a public servant and walked free.

Fung was remanded in custody until his September 12 sentencing, with Judge Yau saying he faces at least one month in prison.

The prosecution said Fung received HK$510,000 from Chan as a deposit on a Mid-Levels flat at One Robinson Place.

At the time, Chan was director and shareholder at Helicopters Hong Kong, Hong Kong Express Airways and Heli Express.

The prosecution said the money was a "sweetener" for Fung to be favorably disposed to Chan's companies when they applied for air traffic rights and requested an expansion of landing sites in 2004.

In his verdict, Judge Yau noted that as Fung and Chan were engaged in an extramarital affair, Chan did not need to give the money to Fung in such a "cumbersome, tortuous and easy-to-trace way."

The judge believed the money could be the profit from other property transactions made by Fung and Chan, but bribery was not the "only reasonable inference."

Giving them the benefit of the doubt, Judge Yau cleared the two of accepting or offering an advantage to a public servant.

However, Yau said it was impossible for Fung not to find out Chan's role in the helicopter company or not be aware of Chan's name in documents when handling applications related to her firm.

When Chan and her husband - Ho's nephew, Andrew Edward Tse - attended a joint panel meeting in the Legislative Council in 2005, it was impossible for Fung not to know Chan was also in the same room, as the two were in a relationship at that time.

Yau believed Fung accepted the money out of greed.

Fung did not make a declaration and concealed his relationship with Chan to protect himself, while handling work related to her companies, and so was found guilty of misconduct in public office.

In mitigation, defense counsel Joseph Tse Wah-yuen, SC, said Fung "made a mistake because of a woman," adding "it is difficult to explain love."

Tse also submitted 37 mitigation letters, including from Fung's wife Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee and his 17-year-old daughter.

His wife said Fung has put family first, and hoped the court can give their family a chance to start anew.

His daughter, who has scoliosis, said Fung is kind and compassionate.

Outside court, reporters asked Chan if she has anything to say, but she declined to comment.

sophie.hui@singtaonewscorp.com

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