Kwoks, former HK official, charged in Sun Hung Kai bribery case – report
HONG KONG – Thomas and Raymond Kwok, the billionaire co-chairmen of Sun Hung Kai Properties, and Rafael Hui, the former head of Hong Kong’s civil service, were charged Friday in a bribery investigation surrounding Asia’s largest developer, the city’s official broadcaster reported.
Thomas Kwok, co-chairman of Hong Kong developer Sun Hung Kai Properties, arrives at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) headquarters in Hong Kong July 13, 2012.
Two others have also been charged in the case, which alleges offenses linked to bribery and misconduct in public office. They include Thomas Chan, the board member in charge of land purchases at Sun Hung Kai Properties, and Francis Kwan, a former banker, according to Hong Kong’s RTHK.
Kwan is a friend of Hui’s, sources have told Reuters, and investigators have been looking into payments between Chan, Kwan and Hui. The five men were charged by Hong Kong’s anti-corruption agency, RTHK reported.
The men had returned to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) anti-graft body on Friday, according to Reuters reporters at the scene, but left after a brief visit. Their appearance comes almost four months after the first arrests in the highest profile case in the agency’s history.
Chan, the company’s board member in charge of land purchases and the first man arrested in the case, also appeared at the agency.
“I’m just shocked and horrified like everybody else,” Roger Nissim, the former manager of the company’s project planning department, said. “It’s the last company anybody would have expected to have this happen. The overriding feeling is that it’s sad that it’s come to this.”
The Kwoks were accompanied by their legal team, Reuters reporters outside the headquarters of the ICAC said. The agency has been investigating alleged corruption and misconduct in public office.
Walter Kwok, ousted as chairman of Sun Hung Kai Properties and estranged from his brothers, was also arrested at the end of May.
With a market value of $32 billion (20.7 billion pounds), the company is the world’s second-largest property company. It and rival Cheung Kong (Holdings) dominate Hong Kong’s home-building and office-development industry.
Sun Hung Kai developed the city’s two tallest buildings, the International Finance Centre and the International Commerce Centre, which stand like sentinels on either side of Victoria Harbour.
With revenue of HK$62.6 billion in the fiscal year ended in June 2011, the company makes half its money from building new apartments, with the rest from renting office and retail property. It pays $1 million in tax to the Hong Kong government each year.
Shares of the company, which are Asia’s most widely held property stock, fell 0.7 percent at the open, but were up 0.5 percent when trading was suspended. The company said it requested the suspension ahead of the release of potentially price sensitive information.
Trading in SmarTone Telecommunications Holdings Ltd and SUNeVision Holdings Ltd, two units of Sun Hung Kai Properties, was suspended on Thursday, according to Hong Kong stock exchange data.
SUNeVision’s shares last traded down 0.7 percent at HK$1.44, while SmarTone was down 1.1 percent at HK$15.9 before the suspension.
While Hui has been under investigation since early 2011, formal proceedings in the case began when Chan was arrested on March 19.