Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has said that he “fully explained” controversy over his payment from Australian engineering company UGL to the central government, long before his appointment to Beijing’s top advisory body.

Leung faced opposition from the pro-democracy camp as he was appointed a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on Tuesday. He will potentially become a vice-chairman of the body later this month. The camp wrote to the CPPCC chairman Yu Zhengsheng saying he was unfit for the position partly because of the ongoing controversy.

Leung received a payment of HK$50 million from Australian company UGL in exchange for not joining rival firms within two years. Parts of the payment were received during his tenure as Hong Kong’s leader. He did not declare it and argued he did not need to as it was only a normal “non-compete and non-poach” agreement.

Leung Chun-ying meeting Director of Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office Wang Guangya. Photo: GovHK.

“Over the past two, three years, I have fully explained this matter to the central government. They are well aware of the issue, and they have also taken legal advice,” Leung said at the airport before flying to Beijing to attend the annual National People’s Congress and CPPCC meeting.

“Therefore there is no question of the central government failing to take into account the UGL matter, when it considered me to serve on the CPPCC,” he added.

Leung would not comment as to whether he will be appointed a vice-chairman.

“But I can do both jobs as a member of the CPPCC and the chief executive,” he said.

He will stay in Beijing until Sunday. He visited the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office on Friday.

Leung Chun-ying at the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office. Photo: GovHK.

Legal letter

Meanwhile, Sing Tao Daily quoted an unnamed source as saying Leung has sent a legal letter to pro-democracy lawmaker Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong, one of the 26 lawmakers who wrote to the CPPCC chairman.

On Wednesday, Kenneth Leung said: “Leung Chun-ying is still under investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption for the UGL payment, or even perhaps under investigation by the Hong Kong or foreign tax revenue departments.”

“If in the future something happens to Leung [following investigations], it will put the central government in a very embarrassing situation,” Kenneth Leung said.

Kenneth Leung. File Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

The source claimed the letter said the anti-graft agency had never publicly said it was investigating the matter and no Hong Kong or foreign tax revenue departments had approached him.

The source added Kenneth Leung was given until Friday noon to give a satisfactory answer, or legal proceedings could commence without notice.

Last week, Leung Chun-ying issued a second legal letter to Apple Daily in six months over reports in the paper relating to the UGL matter.

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.