The top media aide to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has given a fresh argument on Leung’s controversial payment from the Australian engineering company UGL. The payment was made in pounds sterling and not Hong Kong dollars, which proves that it was part of a post-service agreement, the aide argued.

In a new column on Metro Daily on Tuesday, government information coordinator Andrew Fung Wai-kwong said the political circle and the media often referred to the payment as HK$50 million, but the agreement between UGL and Leung signed on December 2, 2011 was in fact for an amount of four million pounds.

Fung said only DTZ – the company that Leung worked for at the time – would be clearing in pounds. The agreement, he said, was to stop Leung from competing with or poaching from UGL/DTZ for two years after UGL acquired DTZ: “so Leung Chun-ying lost two years of income from working – was the four million pounds equivalent to Leung Chun-ying’s income at DTZ?”

Andrew Fung Wai-kwong and Leung Chun-ying. File Photo: Facebook/Apple Daily.

Fung cited a statement from UGL in 2014 made after the payment was exposed which said that the company entered into the agreement to protect its commercial interests.

“Its subtext was that if Leung lost the [chief executive] election… he would be joining the surveying sector once again and forming a new company – if so, wouldn’t it be a useless acquisition for UGL?” Fung wrote.

“Is this a reasonable compensation for key figures leaving in an acquisition, or was it made with ulterior motives, as the opposition camp claims?” Fung said. “Does the opposition truly not understand this, or is it just pretending to not understand? Or is it a manipulation of politics above all?”

Leung previously stated that the payment was a normal post-service agreement, and that there was no need to declare it to the Executive Council.

Apple Daily front page on September 30.

But critics of Leung have claimed that it was a case of corruption.

Last month, Leung sent a letter to Apple Daily accusing the tabloid of defamation. The letter said that an editorial written by Lo Fung and published by Apple Daily on September 8 “falsely, viciously, and maliciously accused” Leung of corruption over the HK$50 million secret payment from Australian Corporation UGL.

Leung has yet to announce whether he will seek re-election as chief executive.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.