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Hong Kong Tycoon Gets Five Years in Prison
From the Wall Street Journal of Tue, 23 Dec 2014 00:23:48 EST
Thomas Kwok, the former co-chairman of Sun Hung Kai Properties, arrived at Hong Kong's High Court on Dec. 16. On Tuesday, he was sentenced to five years in prison.
Thomas Kwok, the former co-chairman of Sun Hung Kai Properties, arrived at Hong Kong's High Court on Dec. 16. On Tuesday, he was sentenced to five years in prison. European Pressphoto Agency

HONG KONG— Thomas Kwok, the former co-chairman of Hong Kong property developer Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. , was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison, while the city’s former No. 2 official, Rafael Hui, received 7½ years, following a corruption trial that ended late last week.

Judge Andrew Macrae had harsh words for Mr. Hui, calling him “one of the instigators as well as beneficiaries” of the corruption conspiracies. Evidence heard over the six-month trial, which included tales of Mr. Hui’s profligate spending on fine dining, a mistress and a racehorse, “has at times raised my eyebrows,” Judge Macrae added.

“To know that the former No. 2 in government has received bribes must be a deep disappointment to many in Hong Kong,” Judge Macrae said. The 66-year-old Mr. Hui was convicted on five separate counts and the judge had discretion to determine sentence lengths and whether sentences should run consecutively or concurrently.

The judge had kinder language for Mr. Kwok, calling him “at heart a good man, and a sincere one, whose work and altruism has touched the lives of very many people.” Mr. Kwok, 63 years old, received a one-year reduction in his sentence for good character. He was convicted Friday on one count of conspiracy stemming from bribes he made to Mr. Hui before he took office as chief secretary in 2005.

Speaking outside the court, Lawrence Lok, a lawyer for Thomas Kwok, called the decision a “proper sentence” and “quite lenient.”

Former Sun Hung Kai executive Thomas Chan, one of the intermediaries for the bribes, was sentenced to six years in prison, while Francis Kwan, another intermediary, was given five years. The two men were found guilty of two conspiracy charges each.

The Kwok trial riveted this city and drew attention to the tight relationship between the government and property tycoons in Hong Kong, which has the world’s highest housing prices.

Write to Chester Yung at chester.yung@wsj.com and Ned Levin at ned.levin@wsj.com



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