Two people, including an Airport Authority senior executive, have been charged with accepting and offering bribes totalling HK$3.8 million over the construction of the airport’s third runway. The duo, who appeared at the Eastern Magistrates’ Courts on Friday morning, were among 30 people arrested by Hong Kong’s anti-graft watchdog the day before.

Several million Hong Kong dollars in suspected bribes were found in the bank account of one senior official, while luxury watches and fine wines were among the alleged inducements offered to others.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption. File photo: Selina Cheng/HKFP.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) said in a statement on Friday that it had pressed charges against Ricky Lee, a 47-year-old principal manager of the Airport Authority and Ng Kai-on, 65, who was the director of sub-contractor Carol Engineering Limited.

Lee faced two counts of conspiracy for a public servant to accept an advantage while Ng stood accused of offering an advantage to a public servant.

“One of the charges alleges that Lee conspired together with Ng and/or other persons unknown to, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse, accept bribes totalling about [HK]$2.4 million, as an inducement to or reward for being or remaining favourably disposed to Ng or Carol Engineering,” the press release said.

Ng was accused of offering Lee HK$500,000 worth of bribes for the same purpose.

Lee also allegedly received another HK$900,000 from another sub-contractor for helping it to secure supply contracts of sand or filling materials for the third runway projects.

The third runway began operation on July 8, 2022. File photo: Airport Authority Hong Kong.

An ICAC spokesperson said in a statement on Thursday that a general manager, a principal manager, a senior manager and a senior project inspector were among those arrested. They had been hired by the Airport Authority on short-term contracts.

The other 26 were employed by different construction contractors, the spokesman added.

The ICAC suspected graft over “the awarding of contracts on construction projects and materials supplies, as well as related administrative and financial arrangements.”

Alleged advantages including cash, luxury watches, fine wines and gold coins were found at the homes and offices of some of those arrested.

The watchdog also uncovered suspected bribes totalling several million Hong Kong dollars in the bank account of the arrested chief senior manager. The sum had been deposited in multiple instalments over the past few years.

The third runway in use. Photo: Airport Authority Hong Kong.

The ICAC said the four Airport Authority employees had received multiple “entertainments” offered by the contractors in question, involving restaurants, nightclubs and other venues.

“The ICAC investigation did not discover any information showing there are problems involving the construction quality or material specifications,” the spokesman said.

The third runway took five years to construct on reclaimed land and opened in July this year amid low arrivals because of Covid-19 travel restrictions. The entire project was estimated to cost over HK$140 billion, which has been shouldered partially by travellers.

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Peter Lee

Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.