Rafael Hui, Hong Kong’s former No. 2 official, used his position of power to serve his own private interest and received secret and disguised payments from Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd., prosecutor David Perry said.
As chief secretary, Hui had “access to highly confidential information on matters in which Sun Hung Kai had a profound and deep commercial interest,” Perry told the Chinese city’s High Court in his opening statement today in the trial of Hui and Thomas and Raymond Kwok, the billionaire brothers running the developer.
The three men are on trial for charges including conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office and to offer an advantage to a public servant, in a case that has drawn scrutiny to ties between businessmen and officials. Hui, the Government’s chief secretary from 2005 to 2007, took bribes in the form of payments and loans totaling more than HK$35 million ($4.5 million), prosecutors have said.
The Kwok brothers, co-chairmen of Sun Hung Kai, and Hui pleaded not guilty. Sun Hung Kai director Thomas Chan and Francis Kwan, a former executive at Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd., also pleaded not guilty.
“Each played a part in making secret payments, each could be trusted with what was taking place concealed from public view,” Perry told the nine-member jury.
He detailed how payments were made in “a very, very elaborate way,” including the use of 10 different bank accounts and routing some through Singapore. Hui, 66, received HK$4.7 million into his bank account hours before he took his oath to serve as chief secretary on June 30, 2005, Perry said.
Hui, who was head of Hong Kong’s pension fund authority before that and a cabinet member from July 2007, “was supposed to serve the public interest,” Perry said.
“His loyalty was compromised because he was in the pay of property developers,” Perry said. “In short, the prosecution case is that during his time as chief secretary and during his time as a member of the executive council, the first defendant was in the pay of Sun Hung Kai Properties.”
Sun Hung Kai owns the city’s two tallest buildings where companies including Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse Group AG and UBS AG have their Hong Kong offices. The company, which also builds luxury apartments and shopping malls, has said the case has not and will not affect its operations.
Shares of Sun Hung Kai rose 1.51 percent today to HK$107.70.
The trial is estimated to last until the end of September and possibly into October, Judge Andrew Macrae said on May 26. Today is the 17th day of proceedings after time spent on preliminary applications and jury selection.
Perry will continue presenting his case tomorrow.
The case is Hong Kong Special Administrative Region v Rafael Hui, Thomas Kwok, Raymond Kwok, Thomas Chan and Francis Kwan, HCCC98/2013, in Hong Kong’s High Court.