Former Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has been released on HK$100,000 bail after appearing at Eastern Magistrates’ Court on Monday afternoon over charges of misconduct in public office.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) announced that it was charging Tsang with two counts of misconduct in public office, contrary to common law.
A press release by the Department of Justice and ICAC stated the details of the two charges, which relate to Tsang’s alleged failure to disclose interests regarding the lease of a residential unit in Shenzhen. At Executive Council meetings in which the application of Wave Media Limited’s licence was discussed, Tsang failed to mention that he was involved in negotiations over the lease of the Shenzhen flat with a major shareholder of the company. He later also nominated an interior designer who worked on the flat for the HKSAR honours and awards system.
“I assure everyone that there are no political considerations,” Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said. “The decision has been made independently by the Department of Justice…there is also no political persecution, as has been suggested by some.” In the DoJ press release, it was also stated that the decision to prosecute was made in accordance with Article 63 of the Basic Law, which says that the DoJ “shall control criminal prosecutions, free from any interference”.
Speaking to the press after his appearance in court, Tsang said, “I have cooperated fully with the ICAC investigation. My conscience is clear. I have every confidence that the court will exonerate me at the end of the proceedings.”
Tsang’s wife said that Tsang was an honest man and that they had been looking forward to a quiet life after retirement, but things had not turned out as they had expected. “For the past three and a half years, we have been pestered endlessly…we’re lucky to have the support of family, friends and some members of the public. We’re very grateful for their confidence, and I believe Tsang’s name will be cleared.”
Although local media widely reported on Tsang’s trips with business tycoons on luxury jets and yachts, the Department of Justice said, and Yuen reiterated, that “there is no sufficient evidence to justify the commencement of criminal prosecution in respect of those other matters reported by the media”.
Tsang made his latest public appearance in early September, when he attended the WWII “Victory Day” military parade in Beijing and was seen shaking hands with Chinese Vice-president Li Yuanchao.