Source: Bloomberg News | 2012-3-30 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
Raymond Kwok/Thomas Kwok
Hong Kong's anti-corruption body yesterday arrested the billionaire co-chairmen of Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd, the city's biggest developer, in one of the highest-level investigations in the agency's 38-year history.
Thomas and Raymond Kwok were arrested in connection with a probe into offenses suspected to have been committed under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, Sun Hung Kai said in a statement. Rafael Hui, formerly Hong Kong's No. 2 official, was also detained by the Independent Commission Against Corruption for suspected corruption, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because of the ongoing probe.
The arrests come four days after a Hong Kong leadership election in which collusion between government and business emerged as a key campaign theme. Hong Kong's current Chief Executive Donald Tsang is under investigation separately by the anti-graft agency for accepting trips on the yachts and planes of business friends.
"This will no doubt further strengthen the impression among the public that there is a collusion between business and government," said Shiu Lik-king, a lecturer of public policy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. "Politics is all about perception. Once the public think you've done it, it won't matter even if you're not convicted at the end."
Sun Hung Kai fell 1.5 percent to HK$111.10 (US$14.31) before it was suspended pending a statement. The stock has shed 4.1 percent since the company said on March 19 that Executive Director Thomas Chan Kui-Yuen was arrested.
Hui, 64, who was chief secretary from 2005 to 2007, resigned as an independent director of AIA Group Ltd "to attend to other commitments," the insurer said in a statement yesterday.
In his more than three decades in government, Hui served as secretary for financial services and set up Hong Kong's public pension fund before he was appointed as the city's No. 2 official.
The ICAC said it arrested two executives and a former senior government official for suspected corruption, without identifying anybody.
Five other people were arrested earlier for their alleged role in the case, it said in an e-mailed statement.
Sun Hung Kai has been run by Thomas and Raymond since the ouster as chairman in 2008 of their elder brother Walter.
Walter Kwok applied to the court to prevent the board from removing him from office, alleging that his brothers opposed his inquiries into impropriety in the way the company awarded construction contracts, and other corporate governance issues.
The Kwok family's combined wealth of US$15.4 billion is third on Forbes Magazine's list of Hong Kong's richest.