A campaign launched by the Democratic Party to fund a probe into former Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying has reached its goal of HK$2 million.
The campaign “Wolf-Hunting Action” launched last Monday. It sought to gather funds within 90 days to support an investigation in Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and Australia over Leung’s controversial HK$50 million payment from Australian firm UGL.
However, the crowdfunding campaign met its goal within just a week after Leung asked his lawyers to issue a statement refuting organiser Lam Cheuk-ting’s claims. It was followed by a legal letter warning of criminal libel action against Lam, a lawmaker for the Democratic Party.
The funds raised will be used to engage legal and accounting services, professional advisory services, liaison with overseas stakeholders, and the gathering of evidence. The campaign will continue, even after meeting its initial goal.
Leung received what he described as a non-compete and non-poach payment of HK$50 million from UGL after it acquired UK firm DTZ. 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 has denied any wrongdoing.
Lawmakers Lam, Andrew Wan and Roy Kwong, alongside barrister Senia Ng, claimed Leung may have committed two offences relating to corrupt transactions with agents and misconduct in public office.
They said there is strong prima facie evidence based on publicly available documents, and that they wished to gather more evidence using funds from the campaign.
The law firm representing Leung sent a legal letters to Lam a day after the campaign was launched, saying the four have made “extremely serious and unfounded allegations” against Leung by suggesting that he committed criminal offences when he was the city’s leader.
“The way you behaved at the press conference, the materials you have published and handed to the press, all indicate clearly to us that you intend to bring Mr CY Leung into hatred, contempt and ridicule,” the legal letter to Lam said. “There is no justification for you to do that.”
兩日兩封律師信，仲提到刑事誹謗最高判兩年監。#不過我哋係絕對唔會退縮 #追究到底#天下為公 #wolfhunting
The letter cites the Defamation Ordinance and states that Leung “reserves all his rights to pursue proper legal recourse in order to protect his reputation.” The maximum punishment for people who maliciously publish any defamatory libel, knowing it to be false, shall be liable to two years behind bars and fines.
The campaign then reached HK$1 million in around three days.
However, Lam said they would not back down, following the threats. The party will announce further plans on Monday.