HONG KONG (AFP) – Hong Kong property tycoon Thomas Kwok and the city’s former deputy leader were jailed for corruption Tuesday after a trial that shocked the city and deepened anger at cosy ties between officialdom and big business.
Former chief secretary Rafael Hui, 66, was jailed for seven and a half years on five graft charges, including misconduct in a public office – making him the highest-ranking official in Hong Kong’s history to be found guilty of taking bribes.
Kwok, 63 – who was joint chairman of the sou-thern Chinese city’s biggest property company, Sun Hung Kai – was sentenced to five years after he was found guilty of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office over a series of payments totalling HK$8.5 million (US$1.1 million) to Hui.
The seven-month trial centred around a total of HK$34 million in handouts, which the prosecution said were made to Hui by Thomas Kwok and his billionaire brother Raymond to be their “eyes and ears” in government.
Raymond was cleared of all charges and Thomas cleared of two out of the three against him.
Hong Kong is seen as relatively graft-free – it was ranked the joint 15th cleanest country or territory in 2013 by watchdog Transparency International.
“To know that the former number two in government had received bribes must be a deep disappointment to many people in Hong Kong,” said Judge Andrew Macrae.