Re-trial of TVB manager Stephen Chan

By way of background, Stephen Chan Chi-wan, former executive of local TV station TVB, was charged under s9(1)(a) of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance – a private-sector bribery offence–  and a common law offence for conspiracy to defraud for allegedly receiving payments to host talk shows while acting as an agent of TVB.  In September 2011, the district court acquitted him of all three charges. However, in November 2012, the Court of Appeal unanimously quashed the acquittal and directed a re-trial. In reaching this decision, the Court of Appeal held that the trial judge has erred in: misguiding himself by considering the "capacity" in which Chan carried out the acts in question, which is not an element of s.9 offense.

In late February, the re-trial took place in the district court over the course of two days in which both the prosecution and the defense argued, among other things, whether Chan had a reasonable excuse to be paid for hosting talk shows.

Prosecution amends charges in Kwok brothers' case

We reported in previous updates that the joint chairmen of Sun Hung Kai Properties, Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, former Chief Secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan, and two others were formally charged by the ICAC in July 2012 for a total of eight offences including; misconduct in public office, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, conspiracy to offer advantages to a public servant in, and for furnishing false information. The matter is still in its preliminary procedural phase.

According to the Department of Justice, the prosecution will be making two principal amendments to its charges. First, the charge of conspiracy to offer advantages to a public servant against Hui and Raymond Kwok would be dropped. The prosecution considered that charge was not part of the core allegations against the defendants and was not necessary to proceed further in light of other charges. Second, a charge of misconduct in public office would be added against Rafael Hui.

The matter is ongoing and the prosecution will commence a committal hearing on March 8, 2013, at which the defendants will indicate their pleas.

Recent case reiterates duty to keep ICAC investigations confidential

A garage operator was recently sentenced for disclosing identities of persons being investigated of an alleged or suspected Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (POBO) offence. Maximum penalties include one year's imprisonment and a fine of HK$20,000.

The defendant in question was twice-interviewed by the ICAC as a witness concerning alleged corruption against the chairlady and vice-chairperson of the incorporated owners of a building. On both occasions, the defendant was reminded of the provision under s.30 of the POBO. Contrary to the warning, the defendant placed copies of documents, including his witness statements, outside each unit of the building and the matter was later alerted to the chairlady.

The defendant was sentenced to four months' imprisonment, suspended for 30 months, and was fined for HK$3,000.