ICAC backed out of quizzing bank chief

Local | Phoebe Ng 3 Feb 2017

The trial of former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who is accused of bribery and misconduct, heard that anti-graft investigators did not question Bank of East Asia chairman David Li Kwok-po as they "did not expect him to cooperate."

But ICAC investigators had questioned several officers of Bank of East Asia who had dealt with the HK$350,000 that Li withdrew on July 16, 2010.

Ricky Yu Chun-cheong, director of investigation at the Independent Commission Against Corruption, told the High Court that it took investigators five months just to question BEA staff.

After finally arranging an interview with two bank employees through BEA's legal department, the meeting was undertaken in the presence of their lawyers.

The bank's lawyers also demanded to review and even amend the witness statements before letting the staff sign them.

"According to our past experience, we believed that Mr Li would not collaborate with us to provide information," Yu said in response to a question posed by Clare Montgomery, representing Tsang.

About 35 minutes after Li withdrew HK$350,000, Selina Tsang Pou Siu- mei, wife of the former chief executive, deposited exactly the same amount in cash into her joint account with her husband at BEA.

Prosecutor David Perry said the sum that Mrs Tsang deposited would have come from Li, saying it was "pure common sense and ordinary inference." Yu said they started investigating Tsang from February 2012. The officers interviewed Mrs Tsang on August 30, 2013, and requested documents related to the couple's rented Shenzhen property at East Pacific Garden. Subsequently, their lawyers submitted five documents to the ICAC, including two rental contracts, remittance of 800,000 yuan (HK$902,166), rent receipt and termination of contract.

A termination of contract was signed on August 10, 2012. Mrs Tsang paid the East Pacific Group 800,000 yuan via remittance to cover the design cost and loss of the company.

Tsang was accused of failing to disclose renting the property from Bill Wong Cho-bau, who is also an investor of Wave Media, while granting the broadcaster a digital radio license. He also allegedly received free refurbishment from Wong in return for the Executive Council approval of the license.

Tsang also failed to declare his personal relationship with Barrie Ho Chow-lai, the interior designer for the Shenzhen penthouse, when he nominated Ho for a government award.

After 20 days of the trial, all prosecution witnesses have finished giving their testimonies and the defense will soon begin its case.

The 72-year-old former chief executive pleaded not guilty to all charges, including one count of accepting an advantage and two counts of misconduct in public office.

All nine members of the jury were told to return to court on Tuesday.

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