A man was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment on Wednesday after offering at least HK$850,000 in bribes to localists to run in last year’s District Council elections.
Cheng Wing-kin, 32, was convicted in the District Court on Monday after trying to convince five localists, including Youngspiration lawmaker Sixtus Leung Chung-hang, last summer to run in specified constituencies in a bid to divert votes from other candidates such as pro-democracy politician Frederick Fung. None of them took the money.
The judge said it is a very serious bribery case, as the convicts had disregarded the election process. He said that the courts treat any conduct of election fraud seriously in order to protect the credibility of the election system.
The judge added that the case has negatively affected Hong Kong’s democratic development and people’s confidence in the election system.
Cheng offered HK$15,000 to HK$20,000 each to five localists last summer. He told them that the money came from Chinese businessmen who had “unlimited money, manpower and resources” to help localists stand in the local elections.
Members of Youngspiration secretly recorded their conversation with Cheng and then reported the incident to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Cheng later told the court that a Chinese businessman surnamed Li was behind the plan. A witness said that Cheng had met Li and “other bosses” through layers of middlemen in Sheung Wan last April. Cheng said he did not know the identity of the men he had met.
Local newspaper Ming Pao reported that one of the middlemen was Gao Lingxiang, a former election campaigner of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
At the time when Gao introduced Cheng to another middleman, Gao worked for a pro-Beijing organisation, whose patrons are Leung and Zhang Xiaoming of the China Liaison Office.
Cheng was found guilty of six counts of engaging in corrupt conduct during an election on Monday.
He was convicted of an extra count of conspiracy to engage in corrupt conduct during an election with two others, who plotted with Cheng and pocketed HK$36,000 as a reward. One was sentenced to two years and a half in jail, and another to two years and four months.