Lew charged with perverting justice
Businessman Lew Monhung, once a close ally of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, has been charged with perverting public justice for allegedly trying to force the city’s chief and graftbuster to terminate a probe against him. He will appear in court on Wednesday morning.
Lew, 64, was deputy chairman and executive director of Pearl Oriental Oil Ltd until March. He was arrested by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on Jan 8 over graft charges linked to the company’s acquisition deal.
The development apparently triggered bitter reactions from Lew, as evident on an interview with iSunAffairs Weekly published on Jan 24, as well as two live interviews with Commercial Radio aired on Jan 24 and 25.
A letter allegedly sent by Lew to Leung, dated Jan 9, was then leaked to the press by an anonymous source in mid-February. Lew was again arrested by the ICAC on Feb 20, but the reason behind the act was only revealed on Tuesday through a statement.
Lew, according to the antigraft agency, faces one count of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice, contrary to Common Law. The charge focuses on “a series of acts” done between Jan 9 and 10.
Though the ICAC is seeking court permission to retrieve voice recordings and reporters’ notes from iSunAffairs Weekly and Commercial Radio, the charge only focused on two e-mails and a letter received by Leung and ICAC Commissioner Peh Yun-lu.
Through the letters, Lew was said to have allegedly sought to terminate the ICAC probe against him “by asserting his past dealings and association with CE Leung Chun-ying, by threat or by intimidation” to influence Leung and Peh.
The statement gave no details. A letter purportedly penned by Lew, published in Sing Tao Daily on Feb 20, accused the probe on Pearl Oriental Oil of being an act of “revenge” and “political murder”.
The letter also suggested a link between Lew’s criticism against the government made in January and his arrest for suspected bribery two days later. Neither Lew nor Leung has verified or denied accuracy of this widely published letter.
Lew will appear for the first time at the Eastern Magistrates’ Court at 9:30 am today. He told Cable TV on Tuesday that he trusts the judiciary in Hong Kong for being just and said “the truth will surely be uncovered”. He also suggested the ICAC was being used as a “political tool” when he talked to Now TV.
The businessman had been a core supporter of Leung during the latter’s bid for top office, but was not an official member of the campaign office. Lew told iSunAffairs he had once been promised a place in the Executive Council, but has never been appointed to any official post in Leung’s administration.
Leung is currently on an 11- day leave. Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is acting for the top post.