LCQ5: Investigation of agreement between Mr Leung Chun-ying and UGL Limited
It was uncovered by some Australian media in 2014 that Mr Leung Chun-ying, the Chief Executive (CE) of the last term, had entered into an agreement in December 2011 with the Australian firm UGL Limited when he was still the Asia Pacific Director of DTZ, and he had received under the agreement a remuneration of about HK$50 million in total, with part of the money being received by him after assuming the office of CE, and yet he had all along not declared his interests relating to the agreement to the Clerk to the Executive Council (the UGL incident). In response to relevant queries, the Government of the last term pointed out that CE of the last term had entered into the agreement before he assumed the office. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) as there were rumours that some senior officials of the Government of the last term had interfered in the investigation into reports about the UGL incident being conducted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and the related personnel appointment, including the alleged interference of the then Commissioner of ICAC in the relevant investigation work conducted by the Operations Department of ICAC, and yet the Central People’s Government re-appointed him as the Commissioner of ICAC last month, how the Government will convince the public that such appointment is appropriate, and how it will ensure that the Commissioner of ICAC will follow ICAC’s established practices and procedures for investigating cases and handle the relevant reports impartially;
(2) whether the current-term Government will fully complement the work of the Select Committee to Inquire into Matters about the Agreement between Mr Leung Chun-ying and the Australian firm UGL Limited set up by this Council, and provide the Committee with the required documents and assistance, including allowing the government officials concerned to attend before the Committee to give evidence; and
(3) given that in its judgment handed down last month on an appeal case concerning the offence of misconduct in public office (MIPO), the Court of Final Appeal held that the abuse of public trust in the case was contemplated by the conspirators, and the fact that the payment in return for the first appellant’s favourable disposition while in the office of Chief Secretary for Administration (CS) was accepted by him before he assumed the office did not mean the abuse of trust occurred at the time of the acceptance of the payment, and it was by agreeing to act as CS whilst in the “golden fetters” constituted by that payment that the first appellant conspired to commit an act of misconduct sufficient to satisfy the conduct element of the offence of MIPO, whether the Government will improve the system of declaration of interests by CE in the light of the judgment; if so, of the provisions to which amendments will be made; if not, the reasons for that?
Since the former Chief Secretary for Administration and I have responded to Members’ questions on several occasions in the Legislative Council in respect of the agreement between the former Chief Executive Mr Leung Chun-ying and the Australian firm UGL Limited, I do not wish to repeat those responses today, and would like to briefly reply to the questions raised by Hon Andrew Wan as follows:
(1) Hon Andrew Wan mentioned the rumours that some senior officials of the Government of the last term had interfered in the investigation into reports about the UGL incident being conducted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and the related personnel appointment, including the alleged interference of the then Commissioner of ICAC (the Commissioner) in the relevant investigation work conducted by the Operations Department of ICAC. I must, first of all, point out clearly that this accusation based on rumours is very serious and totally unfounded. The Commissioner himself has reiterated time and again that ICAC always investigates corruption complaints according to the law in a highly professional and impartial manner. Decisions on the appointment of ICAC personnel are absolutely unrelated to any of its investigations and have not been interfered by any people. Linking such appointment decisions with the UGL incident is mere speculation which is not supported by fact.
The Commissioner has also reiterated that ICAC will remain fearless in its handling of corruption complaints in accordance with the law and the established procedures. Regardless of the background, status and position of the persons involved, as long as there is sufficient information for follow-up, the Commissioner must investigate corruption complaints in accordance with the Independent Commission Against Corruption Ordinance and the established procedures. Legal advice will be sought from the Department of Justice in the process as necessary. All cases will be reported to an independent Operations Review Committee and are subject to its scrutiny.
(2) Attaching great importance to co-operation with the Legislative Council, the Government will strive to complement the work of the Council and its committees by providing the information required as far as practicable and as appropriate.
Hon Andrew Wan enquired whether the Government will improve the system for declaration of interests by CE in light of the judgment handed down by the Court of Final Appeal (CFA) on an appeal case concerning misconduct in public office.
Pursuant to Article 47 of the Basic Law, the Chief Executive (CE), on assuming office, shall declare his or her assets to the Chief Justice of CFA of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and this declaration shall be put on record. The declaration is confidential in nature. As the President of the Executive Council (ExCo), CE abides by the system of declaration of interests applicable to ExCo Members, including the requirement of making regular declarations of interests. CE declares his/her registrable interests annually for public inspection, and makes declarations on his/her financial interests annually on a confidential basis deposited with the Clerk to ExCo. As with other ExCo Members, CE will notify the Clerk to ExCo of any changes to the interests declared in accordance with the system.
Moreover, although not politically appointed, CE voluntarily abides by the principles and spirit of the Code for Officials under the Political Appointment System (the Code), which include making declarations of financial and other interests under the Code.
In view of the rigour and effectiveness of the aforementioned system for declaration of interests, the Government currently has no plan to revise it.
Thank you, President.
Ends/Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:27
Issued at HKT 16:27