Two Hong Kong Billionaire Developer Brothers Formally Charged With Bribing Former City Official
Once viewed as one of the least corrupt areas in the Asia Pacific rim, Hong Kong’s real estate industry no longer enjoys that reputation.
Hong Kong’s anti-graft agency has formally charged billionaire developer brothers Thomas Kwok, 60 and Raymond Kwok, 59, and Rafael Hui, 64, the city’s former No. 2 official, with bribery-related offences.
The Kwoks are co-chairmen of Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd., the largest commercial real estate firm in Hong Kong. The administrative hearing was continued to Oct. 12.
Magistrate David Dufton allowed bail for the Kwoks, Hui and two other men charged in the case, Sun Hung Kai’s executive director Thomas Chan and Francis Kwan. Hui and Kwan were ordered not to leave Hong Kong. No pleas were entered.
The anti-graft agency alleges the Kwoks gave Hui payments and loans totaling $4.5 million. In its eight charges against Hui, the agency also alleges the Kwoks provided Hui with free use of two luxury apartments and unsecured loans for unspecified favors involving Hui’s role as the government’s then chief secretary.
The Kwoks and Hui deny the charges against them.
Land is the primary commodity in Hong Kong. The government owns all of it. To build on it, developers require direct government approval and are supposed to receive close government scrutiny in the development process.
Hong Kong has the world’s most expensive homes, with prices advancing more than 80 per cent since the start of 2009, according to city sales data.
Hong Kong’s new Chief Executive is Leung Chun-ying. He vows to increase scrutiny and accountability among government officials. However, a citizen’s complaint already has been filed against Leung with the agency, alleging Leung has erected unauthorized building structures at his home
Collusion between government and business in Hong Kong is the No. 1 street topic in the city these days – although Asia Pacific traders have had close relationships with governments in the rim for at least 100 years, according to published historical literature.
Street protests in June drew close to a half million residents. They charge the Hong Kong government and business tycoons are washing each other’s backs.
Sun Hung Kai officials state the Kwok brothers will continue as co-chairmen, assisted by two newly promoted deputy managing directors. The company also named Adam Kwok and Edward Kwok, each a son of one of the co-chairmen, as alternative directors.
Source: worldpropertychannel.com (By Alex Finkelstein)