Democratic Party members have engaged a UK law firm with expertise in anti-corruption and fraud to investigate former chief executive Leung Chun-ying’s involvement in the UGL controversy.
Speaking to the press on Wednesday, the party members – including Albert Ho, Lam Cheuk-ting, Andrew Wan, Roy Kwong and Senia Ng – said their campaign “Wolf-Hunting Action” recently enlisted the services of law firm Stephenson Harwood in the UK. The firm will assist in investigative work concerning UK court documents and provide confidential legal advice.
The campaign was also in the process of seeking legal representatives in Australia.
The controversy surrounds Leung’s receipt of a non-compete and non-poach payment of HK$50 million from the Australian firm 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, during Leung’s tenure as Hong Kong leader, but were only made public by Australian media in 2014.
The Democratic Party team accused Leung of encouraging the acquisition deal so he could benefit, despite the existence of higher bids to acquire DTZ, and failing to declare the payment while in office. Leung has denied any wrongdoing.
At the press briefing, the campaign team repeated their call for Leung to reveal documents in his possession to prove his version of events.
Reviewing two legal letters sent by Leung’s lawyers dated April 30 and May 8, barrister Senia Ng said that Leung offered no documentary support or evidence for his position. Andrew Wan and Lam Cheuk-ting also said there were multiple inconsistencies in Leung’s statements.
The campaign team also disclosed recent expenses from the HK$2.23 million raised via crowdfunding. Thus far, the team has spent HK$475,179, of which HK$150,000 were fees for lawyers. The team said it expects expenses to climb rapidly once the lawyers start working in earnest, but did not say whether another crowdfunding drive would be forthcoming.
Former chief executive Leung issued a statement on Facebook in response, saying that Lam and other Democratic Party members were guilty of libel. Leung also said that the lawmakers “dodged the question repeatedly” during the press briefing.
“My previous legal letter to [the lawmakers] was sent on May 24, a month ago. Lam and others still have not offered a defence,” Leung wrote.
Leung also called on the campaign team to regularly disclose and explain their expenses to citizens who donated to the crowdfunding drive, and said he would continue to pursue a libel case against relevant parties.