Former chief executive Donald Tsang probably had a vacation with businessman Bill Wong in 2011, about a week after Exco decided to grant Wong’s company a digital radio licence, the prosecution says.
Continuing his opening statement for a second day, Queen’s Counsel David Perry said travel records and other evidence suggest that the two, together with Tsang’s wife, spent a few days in a mainland hotel together in April 2011, RTHK reports.
That’s soon after a company partly owned by Wong was granted a digital radio license.
Perry also said, a few months before that, a news conference was held on the day Exco agreed in principle to grant the license, by the then secretary for commerce and economic development Rita Lau.
On that day, Tsang, his wife, Wong and another shareholder, Bank of East Asia chairman David Li, were all in the mainland.
Perry said it seems Tsang had been in contact with Wong regularly from 2010 to 2012. That’s when Tsang is alleged to have accepted advantages in return for the granting of the licence, without declaring a conflict of interest to Exco.
The prosecution said Wong’s company had paid for the design and renovation of a luxury penthouse in Shenzhen that Tsang planned to move into.
The jury was told that Tsang had made 69 declarations of potential conflict of interest during 44 meetings with his advisers in the Executive Council – and some, as Perry put it, were “pretty indirect”, according to RTHK.
For example, he had informed Exco that one of its decisions may be related to his brother’s business. Tsang also excluded one of the Exco members, Ronald Arculli, from discussions of the digital radio license application because he was a shareholder of the company. This showed Tsang was aware of the importance of how the public would perceive the matter.
But still, he made no mention of his tenancy negotiation with Wong over the Shenzhen property.
Perry added that Tsang was involved in the formulation of the rules governing civil servants’ declaration of interests and the formulation of the principle officials’ accountability system back when he was the chief secretary. So, the prosecution contended that Tsang should be judged by the very standards he preached.
The prosecution said that when the media learned about his negotiations with Wong over the property, Tsang “panicked” and made what Perry described as a “pre-emptive disclosure”.
He went on a radio program and said he planned on staying outside Hong Kong for a while after stepping down. During the program, he also stressed the importance of his integrity and wanted to assure the public that he would not be involved in any form of government-business collusion.
But Perry said that was only a “strategic disclosure” to limit potential damage because he left out all the dealings he had with Wong.
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