Ex-HK leader Tsang charged in cor­rup­tion probe


A for­mer Hong Kong leader faces mis­con­duct charges over a lux­ury apart­ment in main­land China, author­i­ties said Mon­day, mak­ing him the high­est-rank­ing of­fi­cial to be for­mally ar­rested by anti-cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tors in the Asian busi­ness hub.

The city’s cor­rup­tion watchdog, the In­de­pen­dent Com­mis­sion Against Cor­rup­tion, said Don­ald Tsang ( ) has been charged with two counts of mis­con­duct in public of­fice.

A grim-faced Tsang, 70, ap­peared briefly at a mag­is­trate’s court for a pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing, ac­com­pa­nied by his wife.

The al­le­ga­tions date from be­fore Tsang left of­fice in June 2012 and re­late to a dis­counted pen­t­house rental in neigh­bor­ing Shen­zhen in main­land China of­fered by a wealthy friend for Tsang’s re­tire­ment.

It’s one of sev­eral re­cent cases that have shaken public confi- dence and raised con­cerns about cozy ties be­tween wealthy ty­coons and Hong Kong’s lead­ers. In a sep­a­rate cor­rup­tion case last year, a for­mer Hong Kong chief sec­re­tary — the sec­ond-high­est rank­ing of­fi­cial — and a co-chair­man of one of the city’s big­gest prop­erty de­vel­op­ers were given prison sen­tences.

Tsang be­came the south­ern Chi­nese city’s sec­ond post-colo­nial leader, known as the chief ex­ec­u­tive, in 2005. He was also fi­nan­cial sec­re­tary dur­ing the for­mer Bri­tish colo­nial ad­min­is­tra­tion, when he led the ef­fort to suc­cess­fully de­fend the city’s cur­rency peg against spec­u­la­tors dur­ing the 1997-98 Asian fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

The anti-cor­rup­tion agency said Tsang “will­fully mis­con­ducted him­self” when he failed to pub­licly de­clare that he was in talks to lease the Shen­zhen triplex from a Chi­nese ty­coon while the man’s com­pany was in li­cense ne­go­ti­a­tions with the gov­ern­ment.

The sec­ond charge stems from Tsang’s nom­i­na­tion of an ar­chi­tect for a gov­ern­ment honor with­out re­veal­ing that he had hired the ar­chi­tect to re­dec­o­rate the apart­ment.

Each charge car­ries a max­i­mum sen­tence of seven years in prison, though it ap­pears likely Tsang would face a much lower penalty if con­victed.

‘I un­der­stand’

Tsang stood in court as a clerk read out the charges, say­ing “I un­der­stand” af­ter each charge. He also in­di­cated to the judge he that he un­der­stood the bail con­di­tions, which re­quire him to post 100,000 Hong Kong dol­lars (US$12,900) in cash bail, no­tify the court if he plans to travel out­side Hong Kong or change res­i­dences, and pro­hibit him from interfering with wit­nesses.

Af­ter the hear­ing, Tsang told a throng of TV jour­nal­ists gath­ered on the court­house steps that he was con­fi­dent he would be cleared, re­peat­ing a brief state-


) ment is­sued ear­lier by his of­fice.

“My con­science is clear,” he said. “I have ev­ery con­fi­dence that the court will ex­on­er­ate me at the end of its pro­ceed­ings.”

The Depart­ment of Jus­tice said in a state­ment that it de­cided to pros­e­cute Tsang “af­ter care­ful and thor­ough con­sid­er­a­tion of the avail­able ev­i­dence, the ap­pli­ca­ble law and the rel­e­vant pro­vi­sions in the Pros­e­cu­tion Code.”

The case was ad­journed un­til Nov. 13.


Don­ald Tsang , for­mer leader of Hong Kong, is sur­rounded by re­porters af­ter leav­ing a mag­is­trate court in Hong Kong, Mon­day, Oct. 5.

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