Property magnate Thomas Kwok will have to return to Stanley Prison to finish his jail sentence, after the Court of Final Appeal this morning dismissed appeals from him and former Chief Secretary for Administration Rafael Hui against their convictions for conspiracy to commit misconduct in office.
The pair’s appeals were previously granted by the court, but after taking evidence and submissions from the defendants, all the presiding judges, including Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma, handed down a unanimous ruling reiterating that the dealings between Kwok and Hui were of corruption in nature.
They were intended to “buy” Hui, who in 2005 was about to be appointed to the second highest office in the SAR, to act as Kwok’s “eyes and ears” in the government and look after his business interests, the court said.
Kwok, the former co-chairman of Sun Hung Kai Properties and one of the richest property scions in the city, was sentenced to five years in jail in 2014 but was released on bail pending his appeal in July last year.
Hui had been refused bail while his appeal was being considered.
The former No. 2 official was jailed for seven and a half years, becoming the most senior government official to be convicted and imprisoned before former Chief Executive Donald Tsang, who was sentenced in February to 20 months in jail for misconduct.
Hui, Kwok and Tsang all ended up at the Stanley facility.
A gray-haired Hui also appeared in the hearing this morning, looking much frazzled.
Chief Justice Ma described Kwok’s payment of HK$8.5 million to Hui via two middlemen as “conspiratorial”, as it was in exchange for Hui’s favorable disposition while in office.
He said Hui’s independence was “hopelessly compromised” and the case was a grave example of abuse of office and public trust.
Kwok appeared to be calm after hearing the final verdict and walked into the court cell with a Bible that has been with him for 50 years, as his daughter tearfully whispered to him, “Don’t worry, trust God”, according to media reports.
It is understood that the remainder of Kwok’s jail term is 22 months.
Kwok’s son, Adam, said he was disappointed but respects the verdict.
“Even if we don’t understand or agree, we respect the court’s decision,” he said, adding that whether the payment given to Hui was a consultancy fee or a bribe in nature, and if the trial and the way the case was presented to the jury was fair or not is no longer relevant.
Thomas Kwok’s younger brother Raymond, who is now in charge of the giant property company that reported a revenue of HK$91.2 billion in the latest financial year, was seen wiping his tears in the public gallery. He had been implicated in the case but was cleared of all charges.
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