Henry Tang’s Wife Admits Guilt Over Illegal Basement

Lisa Kuo, the wife of former Hong Kong chief executive candidate Henry Tang, pleaded guilty to one charge of building an illegal basement that contributed to his losing in the city’s leadership race last year.

Kuo, appearing at the Kowloon City Magistrates’ Courts yesterday, pleaded not guilty to a second charge of knowingly commencing building works without obtaining approval. The second charge “will not be proceeded with,” according to a statement by the Department of Justice last night. The hearing was adjourned until July 30.

Tang, formerly Hong Kong’s number two official and the early frontrunner for the 2012 leadership election, lost to Leung Chun-ying. During the campaign, his popularity fell following media reports of the basement. Leung, who criticized Tang over the issue, admitted after winning that he had an illegal structure at his home.

An engineering company and two building professionals pleaded not guilty at yesterday’s hearing to charges related to the construction of Tang’s basement.

“I believe it’s all because of the election that this happened,” Tang told reporters after the hearing. “I feel very sorry for the stress this has caused to the three of them and their families.”

The 2,200 square foot basement -- more than twice the size of 90 percent of private homes in Hong Kong -- contained a wine cellar, tasting room, a movie theater and gym, the South China Morning Post and Apple Daily reported last year.

Tang, who said last year that Kuo was responsible for the basement and he didn’t intervene when it was being built because they were having marital issues at the time, was this year appointed to China’s national political advisory body.

Work has begun in preparation to remove the basement, which will probably require more than 80 truckloads of concrete to fill, the Post reported July 7.

Leung beat two other candidates in the March 2012 chief executive contest, receiving 689 votes from a 1,193-member panel of Hong Kong billionaires, academics and professionals. Tang got 285 votes and Former Hong Kong Democratic Party leader Albert Ho received 76.

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