The Democratic Party on Monday kicked off a campaign to raise funds from the public online, saying it intends to use the money to gather evidence and build a legal case against former chief executive Leung Chun-ying in relation to his financial dealings with an Australian firm many years ago.
The crowdfunding campaign, named “Wolf-Hunting”, aims to raise as much as HK$2 million to facilitate an investigation into Leung and build a potential corruption case against Leung, according to opposition lawmakers.
The funds raised through public donations will be used to hire professionals, collect evidence, both here and overseas, so that Leung can be brought to justice for his suspected misconduct, they said.
Following the launch of the campaign, organizers saw about HK$100,000 pour in within just a few hours, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Leung had been accused by the opposition camp of not making proper disclosures of payments he received from an Australian engineering services firm, UGL, in a deal he struck before he took over as Hong Kong’s chief executive in 2012.
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.
The UGL case has been under investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) since 2014, but the agency has not come up with any conclusion so far.
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.
Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said the legal opinions he has received so far suggest the former chief executive violated Article 9 of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, which is about corrupt transactions with agents, and also committed an offense of misconduct in public office.
Senia Ng Sze-nok, a barrister and a Democratic party member, pointed out that Leung might have committed a crime if further investigations reveal that the board of DTZ and its major creditors, including Royal Bank of Scotland, were not informed about the deal between Leung and UGL.
In a statement issued to rebut such accusations on Monday, Leung claimed that Melville-Ross, then-DTZ chairman, told him in an e-mail on November 23, 2011 that its board agreed to authorize him to talk to UGL before the DTZ sale was completed in the following month.
The government has also explained to the Legco several times that Leung had abided by the existing interest declaration system, the former chief executive pointed out.
Calling Lam’s accusations against him false and malicious, Leung said he reserves the right to pursue legal action against the Democratic Party lawmaker.
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