A complaint against Legislative Council President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen has been substantiated by lawmakers after he failed to declare an interest in an overseas company. However, he will face no punishment.
Last October, local media reported that Leung failed to declare two companies registered in the UK that he owned. Complaints were filed to the legislature’s Committee on Members’ Interests in November. The committee consists of four pro-Beijing and three pro-democracy lawmakers.
“There is no information showing that the breach was a deliberate act or that it involved any conflict of interests,” the committee’s report said.
The two companies involved were Sun Hing (UK) Limited (SHL) and 47 Onslow Gardens Limited (OGL).
Leung explained to the committee that SHL was a company set up to provide a “more intimate service” to European customers of his family’s garment trading business. SHL has only played a peripheral role in his family firm and has no customers, he said.
Leung said that, in 2012, he asked his secretary to execute his decisions to resign as a director of SHL and withdraw his shareholding interest to his brother. Although the resignation had taken place, the transfer of shares did not take place because of a miscommunication.
“Mr Leung stated that his failure to register his shareholding interest in SHL during the relevant period was due to an inadvertent oversight on his part,” the report read.
Leung has been a lawmaker since 2004. SHL ceased all activities and became dormant in May 2015. It was dissolved on January 24 this year.
The complaint over the failure to declare interests in SHL was substantiated. But no sanctions were recommended as the committee ruled it was not a deliberate act and no conflict of interests were involved. It also considered the experience of handling past cases.
The committee’s chair lawmaker Yiu Si-wing said it was an unanimous decision by the committee’s members.
Backtracking on statements
The committee found a second complaint to be unsubstantiated. OGL is a company for flat owners to hold freehold land of the property at 47 Onslow Gardens.
Leung said he had registered the interest that he owned a flat in a residential block at the address. A company of his holds shares in OGL as the flat owner.
At first, Leung claimed in a written reply that he had a shareholding interest in OGL as “[s]omehow the shares were transferred” to him.
But in his second response made seven weeks later, Leung retracted his statement, since his lawyers found the shares were never transferred from his company to him.
The committee confirmed the information in the second reply was true. But it said it was “disappointed” that Leung had not thoroughly verified the relevant facts and misled the committee.
Lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, vice-chair of the committee, said: “It was a bit polite to say we were disappointed. I would personally say he was reckless and careless.”
Leung did not attend the first part of the LegCo meeting on Wednesday apparently to avoid any conflict when the report was being read out.
“I understand that the public has expectations with lawmakers, especially the president – I apologise for the negligence. I will be more careful in the future,” Leung said on the sidelines of the LegCo chamber.
He denied shifting blame to his secretary over the failure to transfer shares in SHL: “All in all, I am responsible.”