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Hong Kong Ex-Minister Gets Suspended Sentence for Fraud

HK’s Former Development Secretary Mak Chai-kwong
Mak Chai-kwong, Hong Kong's former secretary for development, center right, is surrounded by members of the media after his conviction outside the Wanchai Law Courts in Hong Kong on June 24, 2013. Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg

Hong Kong’s former development secretary Mak Chai-kwong received a suspended sentence for his role in defrauding the government of more than HK$700,000 ($90,249) of housing allowances during the 1980s.

District Court Judge Johnny Chan gave Mak and former assistant director of the highway department Tsang King-man sentences of eight months each, suspended for two years.

Mak and Tsang were convicted in June of concealing that they had an interest in apartments that they leased from each other’s wives in order to claim the allowances.

Mak had been arrested by the Independent Commission Against Corruption less than two weeks after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was sworn in on July 1 last year. Two more of Leung’s cabinet members have since resigned and lawmakers have called for Mak’s successor Paul Chan to quit over his interest in farmland designated by the government for redevelopment.

Mak’s lawyer earlier told the court that there was a structural deficiency in the civil servant housing allowance system and presented letters of support from Financial Secretary John Tsang and former senior officials as part of a mitigation plea.

Franklin Lam, a former UBS analyst, resigned from the Executive Council after the city’s anti-graft agency this month dropped its investigation into him. Prosecutors said there was no evidence to support charges of misconduct in public office against Lam.

Another cabinet member Barry Cheung resigned in May from all public positions after the police began an investigation into the Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange Ltd. that he founded and headed.

Leung’s support rating was at a record low of 45.1 on a scale of 0 to 100, according to survey of 1,032 people conducted July 22-25 by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Program.

The case is Hong Kong Special Administrative Region v. Mak Chai-kwong and Tsang King-man, DCCC956/2012 in the Hong Kong District Court.

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