New evidence has emerged that appear to contradict the assertion of Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee that she did not know the identity of the other party in a controversial flats-swap deal, Apple Daily reports.
Earlier this week, Fung was accused of potential conflict of interest as a civil servant in a 2013 flats-swap deal involving a company called Wiseson Ltd., which is owned by Sky Shuttle Helicopters Ltd. chief executive Cheyenne Chan, a sister-in-law of Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho Hung-sun.
Fung swapped a Mid-Levels flat plus HK$6.5 million in cash for two adjoining flats in Happy Valley owned by Wiseson.
The deal allegedly saved Fung HK$3 million in costs and another HK$1 million in property tax.
After going through property transaction records of Wiseson, Apple Daily reporters found that Fung’s husband, Wilson Fung Wing-yip, who is executive director for corporate development at the Airport Authority, had acted on Chan’s behalf to sign two supplements to the sales and purchase documents in a property transaction in February 2013.
The official sale and purchase agreements were later signed by Chan.
The finding could deal a blow to Mrs. Fung’s claim that she had had no idea she was swapping flats with Chan, and only learned about it from media reports this week.
Given that Wilson Fung has never been a director or shareholder of Wiseson, for him to be authorized by the company to sign on property purchase agreements suggested that he and Chan were close friends, and Mr. Fung had good knowledge of the properties held by Wiseson, the newspaper said.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has launched an investigation into the deal.
Wilson Fung is said to have been told by the Airport Authority to take a holiday of an unspecified length.
The Fung couple have refused to make further comments on the issue.
The Home Affairs Bureau also said in a statement that it has no further comments to make, while the Airport Authority said it would not comment on employees taking leave of absence.
Former ICAC investigator Lam Cheuk-ting from the Democratic Party said Mrs. Fung’s explanations were weak.
“It is highly rare in the property industry that you swap flats with a total stranger,” Lam said, adding that he would urge the government to suspend Mrs. Fung from her public duties until the ICAC completes its investigation.
Lam also said Mr. Fung should say since when did he start assisting Chan with property investments and if he had declared such interests to the government.
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