The Democratic Party has said it will enlist local and overseas lawyers to gather evidence to investigate former leader Leung Chun-ying‘s HK$50 million payment, after a successful public crowdfunding campaign reached its target on Monday.
Lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting thanked some 5,800 people who donated HK$2 million to the campaign over the past week. He said it was a reasonable outcome, but the funding drive achieved its goal unexpectedly quickly. Originally, the campaign was set to last 90 days.
It came after Leung issued legal threats to Lam, warning of a potential criminal libel case. Citing publicly available documents, Lam accused Leung of violating two laws including an instance of a corrupt transaction with agents, and of misconduct in public office.
Lam said the successful campaign reflected Hong Kong people’s demands for justice and truth: “Leung Chun-ying’s action sparked more people to support us.”
“Over the past few years, too many cases have been unresolved. We the Hong Kong people should persist with justice – to look for the truth despite all the difficulties.”
Leung received what he described as a non-compete and non-poach payment of HK$50 million from Australian firm UGL after it acquired UK firm DTZ. He was DTZ’s director in 2011, before running for chief executive. The payments were made in 2012 and 2013, while Leung was in office, but were only made public by Australian media in 2014.
The Democratic Party team accused Leung of encouraging the deal so he could benefit – despite the existence of higher bids to acquire DTZ. Leung did not declare the payment he received when in office and has denied any wrongdoing.
Barrister Senia Ng, a member of the Democratic Party team, said there were six items to follow up on in the coming six months.
They will hire lawyers in Hong Kong to provide legal advice on the case. They also said that Leung’s legal letter to them mentioned there was a case in the UK relating to the DTZ purchase, thus they will hire lawyers in the UK to obtain the related documents.
They will also hire Australian lawyers to provide legal advice as to whether Leung had violated any laws in Australia. They will liaise with UK and Australian lawmakers and officials, as well as law enforcement agencies in the respective countries.
They will also archive documents available in the public domain for the public to access. And a committee consisting of well-known and credible people will be formed to manage the funds.
When asked if the funds will be used for dealing with legal cases brought by Leung against them, Lam said that such a risk was included in the fundraising drive’s objectives.
“But we will try to avoid this as best as we can – we are on a fact finding mission, we don’t want to use hard-earned donations to handle cases brought by Leung Chun-ying,” he said.
Lam maintained the points they raised were reasonable questions in order to protect public interest, and there was no malice.
Lam said Leung had not been revealing all of the information he had to help clear up any doubts Hongkongers may have.
For instance, he said it was the first time Leung revealed – in the recent legal letter – that the then-DTZ chair in 2011 advised Leung not to attend DTZ board meetings. The arrangement was to avoid potential conflicts of interest after Leung was cleared to negotiate the deal with UGL.
Lawmaker Andrew Wan apologised for unable to provide other donation methods. He said they wanted to avoid anonymous donations, which could spark investigations into the identity of donors.
The fundraising drive will continue.