In a crackdown against corruption in the region, Hong Kong's high court on Tuesday handed down prison sentences to former Chief Secretary of Administration Rafael Hui Si-yan and billionaire Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong, the former co-chairman of Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. Thomas Chan, the real-estate firm’s former executive director, and his aide too were sentenced to jail and fined thousands of dollars.
The case became the city’s largest corruption trial and a nine-member jury had found the men guilty on Friday. Hui was given a seven-year jail term and ordered to pay HK$11.18 million ($1.44 million) to the city while real estate tycoon Thomas Kwok got a five-year prison sentence and was fined HK$500,000. Chan was sentenced to six years in jail with a fine of HK$500,000 while Francis Kwan Hung-sang, an aide, was also found guilty of corruption and given a five-year jail term.
Hui, who held the post of chief secretary between 2005 and 2007, was accused of accepting bribes worth HK$8.5 million from Thomas Kwok, Bloomberg reported. Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, Thomas Kwok’s brother, was acquitted of all four charges against him and is currently continuing as the only chairman of Sun Hung Kai Properties, the world’s second-most valuable real estate firm.
“To know the former number two in government has received bribes must be a deep disappointment to many people in Hong Kong,” Andrew Macrae, the high court judge, said while sentencing Rafael, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), adding: “It is vitally important in these times the Hong Kong government and business community remain and are seen to remain corruption-free, particularly when the mainland is taking obvious steps to eradicate the cancer of corruption in their own jurisdiction.”
Thomas Kwok, 63, and Thomas Chan, 68, will appeal against the convictions, Sun Hung Kai Properties had said in a statement Friday. Thomas and Raymond Kwok were arrested in March 2012, after which the company’s shares saw their biggest drop in 14 years, according to Bloomberg.
"It is particularly difficult when one is dealing with otherwise decent men who are not young but who have committed serious offences," Macrae said, according to SCMP, before handing down the sentence.