The pro-democracy camp has accused Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying of secretly working with a pro-Beijing lawmaker to revise the scope of a Legislative Council investigation over the controversial payment he received from Australian firm UGL.
A document on a select committee investigation into Australian firm UGL’s HK$50 million payment to Leung was seen by HKFP. It was submitted by Pro-Beijing DAB party lawmaker Holden Chow Ho-ding to the Legislative Council’s secretariat.
The document contains at least 34 edits made on April 21 and 22 by a user named “CEO-CE,” which stands for the Chief Executive’s Office-Chief Executive. The committee discovered the document’s edit history at a closed door meeting on Monday.
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 the payment at the time and later argued he did not need to, as it was only a normal “non-compete and non-poach” agreement.
The edits range from changes in font size and grammar to the removal and addition of lines concerning the scope of the investigation. Some of the changes may give Leung an advantage – for example, the addition of more questions may stall the process.
In the document, a line was added suggesting the committee look into “the completeness and authenticity of the UGL agreement made public by Australian media.”
Another line was changed from “If yes [the agreement was signed], what were the main conditions of the UGL agreement?” to “Whether the agreement revealed by Australian media was signed or executed between Mr. Leung and UGL – if yes, whether Mr. Leung has already been elected chief executive on the day when he signed the agreement.”
The user CEO-CE also added a line in the document asking the committee to look into “the original intention of Article 47 of the Basic Law which demands that the chief executive declare his or her assets, and whether the payment is an asset required for declaration under Article 47 of the Basic Law.”
At a meeting of the committee on April 25, Chow also suggested that the committee look into the original intention of the Article 47 and the authenticity of UGL’s statements, among other items.
Following the incident on Monday, Leung denied that he was meddling with the investigation. He said that the draft detailing the scope of the investigation was a public document.
“So I do believe there is no case, there is no point, for the committee to have closed-door meetings,” Leung said. “Everything could be public and open as far as I’m concerned, and the scope of study should be as wide as possible to cover all the questions, whether they were reasonable questions or not reasonable questions, that have been asked, either privately or publicly in the last two and half [years].”
Leung claimed some had raised questions over the authenticity of some parts of the UGL agreement.
“If there is a need, [we] should write to the committee officially to suggest expanding its scope to make it more complete… during this investigation process, the so-called person under investigation has the need and the right to express his own views,” he said.
But the pro-democracy camp disagreed that Leung should be editing Chow’s document.
“If he has any comments or suggestions or questions in relation to the select committee’s work, the proper way of doing it is to contact the secretariat to the committee and offer his views, his questions and queries in an open handed way, but not to do it underhandedly through a member of the select committee,” said lawmaker Dennis Kwok. “That is not the way to exercise his so-called right.”
Lawmaker Nathan Law Kwun-chung said the incident showed that Leung had “installed puppets” at the LegCo to intervene in the committee’s work.
“Leung Chun-ying should be impeached for such flagrant actions,” he said. The pro-democracy camp has not reached a decision on whether it will take steps to impeach Leung.