Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai allegedly helped unidentified people make donations to the University of Hong Kong (HKU) between May 2013 and May 2014, Ming Pao Daily reported Wednesday.
The newspaper said it received an email from someone who claimed to be “a scholar who loves the university”. This came attached with multiple emails and documents that show names of people including the three founders of Occupy Central and Robert Chung Ting-yiu, director of the HKU Public Opinion Programme.
The emails show that Tai made four donations amounting to HK$1.45 million (US$186,918) to the university during the period. He originally claimed two of the donations were from unidentified donors but said two months later all of the donations were from Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, who is also a co-founder of Occupy Central, the report said.
The emails attracted attention because the university is not allowed to accept money from unidentified sources.
Occupy Central said in a statement on Tuesday night that Chu did make three donations last year: HK$800,000 to HKU’s polling program; HK$300,000 to HKU’s Faculty of Law and HK$200,000 to the Faculty of Arts.
The money came from citizens who wanted to help Chu in the push for democratic development, Occupy Central said. All three donations were made under the name of “Anonymous”.
Another donation of HK$150,000 was from a collection at Chu’s birthday banquet earlier this year.
A HKU spokesperson said the university has guiding principles on donations and procedures to verify sources of donations. The university also respects donors’ wishes if they prefer not to be named publicly but will identify donors and undertake due diligence.
HKU said it regrets the release of the confidential emails into the public domain, adding that all discussions with donors and potential donors remain private.
Ip Kwok-him, a legislator of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the emails raise several questions. Why did Tai wait for two months before revealing who the donor is? Was there a financial supporter behind Chu? Did the donations involve foreign sources?
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