26 August 2019
Donald Tsang (center) is accompanied by his wife and son after he was convicted of misconduct in public office on Friday. Photo: HKEJ
Donald Tsang (center) is accompanied by his wife and son after he was convicted of misconduct in public office on Friday. Photo: HKEJ

Donald Tsang faces up to 7 years in jail for misconduct

A High Court judge is likely to give his sentence to Donald Tsang Yam-kuen on Monday after the former Hong Kong leader was found guilty of misconduct in public office.

Tsang, 72, became the first chief executive to be convicted in a criminal trial, Apple Daily reports.

In an 8-1 vote on Friday, the jury found that Tsang, who was chief executive from 2005 to 2012, failed to inform the Executive Council during its meetings from Nov. 2, 2010 to Jan. 20, 2012 – in which license applications by Wave Media Ltd. (WML) were discussed and approved – about his negotiations with Bill Wong Cho-bau, a major shareholder of WML, over a rental arrangement for a penthouse at East Pacific Garden in Shenzhen.

The jury, however, unanimously acquitted Tsang on a separate count of misconduct in public office.

He had been accused of nominating interior designer Barrie Ho Chow-lai to receive an honor under the city’s award system, without revealing to concerned parties that Ho was engaged in design work for the flat.

The jury failed to reach a verdict on a charge of bribery, or “accepting an advantage”, against Tsang, who had been accused of accepting HK$3 million worth of renovation of the flat for free from Wong and approving WML’s application for a digital audio broadcasting license in exchange.

After the jury’s decision, High Court Justice Andrew Chan adjourned the court until Monday, when he is expected to announce Tsang’s sentence.

Under the law, a person convicted of misconduct in public office could be jailed for up to seven years, although aggravated or lighter sentencing is also possible, depending on the judge’s discretion.

It is said the Department of Justice is seeking a retrial of the bribery charge, but some observers from the legal profession doubted the judge would delay a ruling on the matter and allow a retrial, which may not happen until a year later.

Barrister Stephen Char Shik-ngor, who is a former chief corruption investigator, said the judge may decide on Monday whether a retrial is reasonable after hearing statements from both sides.

Char said it is hard to guess what the sentence would be, adding that a probation is unlikely because Tsang had served as the city’s highest official and unless he is ill.

Meanwhile, Tsang’s legal team has reportedly collected dozens of petition letters aimed at asking the judge for leniency.

Sources said the letters came from John Tsang and Carrie Lam, both chief executive aspirants, former justice minister Wong Yan-lung, and several former members of the Democratic Party, Sing Tao Daily reported.

In his letter, John Tsang, who had worked with Donald Tsang for more than 30 years, is expected to tell the judge how the former chief executive had devoted himself to serving the public and his contributions to the city, especially during the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the newspaper said, citing its sources.

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