HSBC has been accused of occupying some government land in front of its famed “Taipan House” property at No. 19 Middle Gap Road in Hong Kong’s Peak area, Apple Daily reported Monday.
According to several lawyers who have read the terms of the deeds of the property, a 50-meter passageway in front of the 8,900 square-foot mansion is a public asset. The owner of the property has only the right of use of it, but such rights are not exclusive.
HSBC was found to have installed an iron gate to block others from using the passageway. The Lands Department said HSBC has the right of way of the passageway, but is also responsible for the construction and maintenance of the property. Therefore, it has the right to build a gate, it said.
The mansion, which is valued at HK$561 million (US$72.39 million) internally, is currently used by Peter Wong, HSBC Holdings Plc’s chief executive officer for Asia Pacific.
A HSBC spokesperson said the iron gate was built as early as 1984 with the approval of related government units, and that approvals were also obtained before the refurbishment of the house in 2010. However, the spokesperson did not reveal which government departments were involved.
Solicitor Daniel Wong said despite having the right of way, HSBC cannot stop others from using the passageway by installing a gate. Wong said the treatment by the Lands Department could be challenged legally.
Lee Wing-tat, chairman of Land Watch concern group, agreed with the viewpoint of Wong, saying the response from Lands Department was flawed. He said he would urge fellow legislators to follow up on the matter, the report said.
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