18 July 2019
Screen shot of the 'Wolf-Hunting Action' project launched by the Democratic Party, as seen on the crowdfunding platform FringeBacker.
Screen shot of the 'Wolf-Hunting Action' project launched by the Democratic Party, as seen on the crowdfunding platform FringeBacker.

Raising HK$2 mln, democrats vow to get to truth on Leung-UGL

The Democratic Party said on Monday that it aims to uncover the full truth on former chief executive Leung Chun-ying’s financial dealings with Australian firm UGL, thanks to a further investigation it is initiating into the former leader with financial backing from the public. 

The truth behind the deal between Leung and UGL many years ago will hopefully come out in the open once the investigation is completed, it said. 

The comments came after the party successfully achieved the first-stage online crowdfunding goal of HK$2 million earlier that day to raise funds to finance a probe into the Leung-UGL affair.

The fundraising campaign, named “Wolf-Hunting Action”, saw HK$2.09 million being collected through online donations as of 11 am Tuesday after it was launched a week ago.

Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, one of the organizers of the campaign, said that he was grateful to the more than 5,800 people who donated money over the past week, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The public’s financial support shows that many people harbor doubts over Leung’s dealings and the payments he received from UGL, as well as his disclosures, Lam said.

As Leung sent legal letters to Lam and other campaign organizers warning them that they could face legal action for false accusations, it only prompted more people to support the party campaign, Lam added.

In October 2014, at the height of the pro-democracy protests, media reports surfaced that Leung had received HK$50 million in confidential payment from UGL as part of the latter’s 2011 purchase of DTZ, a once-UK-listed real estate services firm in which Leung had been a director.

UGL would make the payment under a deal in which Leung had agreed not to establish or join a rival firm after the DTZ takeover.

The Australian firm allegedly paid Leung the amount in installments in 2012 and 2013, after he began serving as Hong Kong’s top leader.

The Democratic Party accused the then chief executive of failing to declare the payments and paying no taxes for it.

Leung, who is currently vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China’s top political advisory body, has denied any wrongdoing.

In 2016, the Legislative Council set up a select committee to inquire into whether Leung had complied with the declaration requirements, whether the UGL agreement had given rise to any conflict of interest, and whether the payments were taxable.

The move came as Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), which began to look into the case in 2014, had not come up with any conclusion so far.

Senia Ng Sze-nok, a barrister and a Democratic Party member, said the funds raised will be used, among other things, to hire lawyers in the United Kingdom and Australia to provide their opinions on the case and to act as liaisons with enforcement agencies in the two countries, as well as archiving related documents for the public to access.

Ng said the work is estimated to take about six months and will be extended if needed.

Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan Siu-kin said a committee made up of well-known and credible people in the society will manage the funds.

While Lam admitted that they cannot guarantee that the results of all the efforts may not be as what supporters of the campaign may hope for, he promised that every cent collected will be used for investigation purpose and that the money will be used with utmost efficiency.

ICAC Commissioner Simon Peh Yun-lu, meanwhile, reiterated at a Legco Finance Committee special meeting on Monday that he would not comment on the individual case.

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