Two former government officials have been cleared of charges of rent allowance fraud, as the Court of Final Appeal on Wednesday overturned a previous guilty verdict by a lower court.
Former Secretary for Development Mak Chai-kwong, 65, and former assistant highways director Tsang King-man, 60, were accused of defrauding the government of about HK$700,000 (US$90,300) in rent subsidies between 1985 and 1990.
They were accused of cross-renting their flats to each other and applying for subsidies, claiming that they were tenants in apartments 22E and 21E at the City Garden estate in North Point.
The pair was charged with six counts of deceiving the government, including conspiracy to defraud.
In 2013, a district court sentenced them to eight months jail with two-year probation. The duo then lodged an appeal.
After an initial appeal was rejected by the appellate court, they lodged an appeal with the Court of Final Appeal last year.
In a ruling Wednesday, Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li expressed doubts whether the prosecution had sufficient evidence to prove that the two former officials were beneficial owners of each other’s properties.
He also noted that cross-renting is not forbidden under the law, Ming Pao Daily reported.
The previous convictions and sentences against the two officials were quashed, and the prosecution was ordered to pay the defendants’ court fees.
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