Ex-official on trial for taking bribes from Macau businesswoman

May 21, 2019 15:54
Wilson Fung (inset), a former deputy secretary of the Economic Development and Labour Bureau, is facing two charges -- accepting an advantage as public servant, and misconduct in public office. Photo: HKEJ

A former government official who had been in charge of air service negotiations and air traffic rights went on trial on Monday in a corruption case, accused of taking more than half a million Hong Kong dollars in alleged bribes from a Macau businesswoman.

Wilson Fung Wing-yip, 55, who had been deputy secretary of the Economic Development and Labour Bureau between 2003 and 2006, is facing two charges, namely a public servant accepting an advantage, and misconduct in public office.

The prosecution told the court that Fung, who was executive director of corporate development of the Airport Authority when he was charged by the Independent Commission Against Corruption in 2018 and was suspended from work as a result, accepted HK$510,000 in September 2004 from Cheyenne Chan Ung-iok, a sister-in-law of Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho Hung-sun.

At that time, Fung had been overseeing the aviation division of the Economic Development and Labour Bureau in his capacity as the bureau's deputy secretary.

Chan, former director and shareholders of three airline and helicopter companies, is also a defendant in the case, charged with offering an advantage to a public servant, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports. 

On Monday, Fung pleaded not guilty to one count of a public servant accepting an advantage and another count of misconduct in public office. Chan denied one count of offering an advantage to a public servant.

According to the prosecution, Fung not only failed to declare a conflict of interest but also acted in manner favorable to Chan's companies over a three-year period between 2004 and 2006.

Fung is alleged to have received favors from Chan at a time when he was handling applications from firms owned by the businesswoman in relation to air traffic rights and some other proposals related to the aviation business.

Prosecutor Maggie Wong Pui-kei, a senior counsel, noted that the amount was paid as part of a deposit on a luxury flat in the Mid-Levels bought by Fung and his wife Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee, who currently heads the government's Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office.

The prosecution accused Fung of taking advantage of his position as a public servant to accept Chan’s sweetener and make decisions favorable to Chan’s companies, which amounts to breach of loyalty to his office and constitutes serious misconduct.

A civil servant with more than 20 years' experience, there was no way he could not have understood the rules on conflicts of interest, the prosecutor said, arguing that Fung deliberately chose to conceal from the government his dealings with Chan, RTHK reported.

Wong pointed out that Fung had told police that he was unable to recollect details of the suspected transaction.

Wong also noted that though Fung told the police that any connections he may have had with Chan had nothing to do with his duties as a civil servant, the police had found in Chan’s office a notebook which bore a message, in Chan's own handwriting, that she had recruited a high-ranking official for assistance in her matters.

The hearing is expected to last 15 days.

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