Former chief executive Leung Chun-ying has hit back at Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting over his campaign to fund a probe into Leung’s controversial HK$50 million payment from Australian firm UGL.
The public crowdfunding campaign “Wolf-Hunting Action” – a nod to one of the ex-leader’s nicknames – aims to raise at least HK$2 million in 90 days to support an investigation in Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and Australia. The funds may be used for legal and accounting services, professional advisory services, liaison with overseas stakeholders, and the gathering of evidence.
The Democratic Party claimed Leung may have committed two offences relating to corrupt transactions with agents and misconduct in public office. But Leung said in a social media post that Lam’s accusations were libelous and based on false and incorrect information. His lawyers have since issued a statement.
Leung has maintained that the payment from UGL was part of a non-compete and non-poach agreement, after UGL acquired UK firm DTZ.
The Democratic Party accused Leung of encouraging the deal – despite there being a more generous bid on offer – since Leung could only receive the payment after the UGL purchase was completed.
Leung was DTZ’s director in 2011, before he ran 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.
Leung said that DTZ’s board chair had, on the board’s behalf, provided written consent allowing him to directly negotiate an agreement with UGL. He said the board chair agreed to an arrangement to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
Leung – now a vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference – said the chief executive of DTZ had issued a written statement in 2011 to explain why the company was sold to UGL.
He also said there have been no complaints and enquiries from DTZ or relevent people over his agreement with UGL, and there have not been any instances of tax authorities contacting or investigating him.
“Facts are the most important in legal matters, how many facts does Lam Cheuk-ting have? [Lam] bears the responsibility for making accusations without understanding all facts,” Leung said.
Last year, Leung filed a lawsuit against lawmaker Kenneth Leung – a first for Hong Kong – alleging that he made defamatory remarks in claiming the leader could be under investigation by Hong Kong or foreign tax authorities.
Lam told a Commercial Radio programme on Tuesday that his comments were fair and based on publicly available information.
He said if Leung believed the information available was insufficient to reflect the entirety of the case, Leung should release more information in his possession.
“It has been more than three years since the incident was revealed, there was enough time and opportunities – especially to explain it at the Legislative Council,” he said.
In 2016, Hong Kong’s legislature formed a select committee to investigate the matter. Last year, pro-Beijing lawmaker Holden Chow was forced to resign from the committee after secretly allowing Leung to alter documents related to the scope of the probe. Committee chair Paul Tse said Leung had refused to cooperate with the investigation.
The Democratic Party’s crowdfunding campaign received more than HK$230,000 as of Tuesday.