Saturday, 20 December 2014

Hui's Fall from Grace

Rafael Hui was found guilty of bribery thanks to his materialistic longings
It seems former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan was addicted to the high life and thought of himself as a discerning consumer even though his salary wasn't enough to pay for his lavish tastes.

The 131-day trial of Hui, and Sun Hung Kai Properties co-chairmen and brothers Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen is over, with Hui and Thomas Kwok found guilty of bribery.

Somehow Raymond Kwok was acquitted on all four charges against him and walked free.

It basically boils down to Hui acquiring hyper materialistic tastes and not being able to live on a budget, and supposedly succumbed to bribes from the Kwok brothers to maintain his lavish lifestyle.

Thomas Kwok was also convicted of bribery
In court it was revealed Hui liked to spend money traveling to Europe and Japan to attend exclusive operatic performances, once dropping HK$150,000 to stay in London's Dorchester Hotel.

He also spent HK$2 million at one music store for several years, and had no qualms going on a HK$200,000 shopping spree in one store on CDs and vinyl records. At that time his annual income was HK$4.6 million.

But after then chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was re-elected in 2007, Hui became a non-official executive council member and his salary dropped to HK$105,000 a month. However he continued to withdraw HK$1 million a month using overdraft facilities, and on his credit card bills he would only pay the minimum amount.

"Basically I did not have any savings. I spent almost everything I had," Hui said on the first day of his testimony.

Is that supposed to be considered a badge of honour? For a financial secretary to not pay off his credit card bills every month is shocking not to mention spending way beyond his means.

The writing was on the wall for Hui when the ICAC charged him with bribery and misconduct in office in July 2012; then creditors came calling, including Hang Seng Bank, Standard Chartered, and even Honour Finance, a subsidiary of SHKP.

As a result, Hui declared bankruptcy in November last year, not being able to repay Bank of East Asia. There were media reports he racked up debts of up to almost HK$75 million.

Not only was he a carefree spender, but also apparently a philanderer, cheating on his wife of more than 40 years.

"In 2008, I gave some money to a female friend in Shanghai," he confessed in court. "I do not recall the exact amount -- but I think at least HK$7 million or HK$8 million... some of which for purchasing properties, some for investments."

If this isn't a massive fall from grace, I don't know what is.

It will be interesting to see what sentence the judge metes out for Hui, as he will hardly be able to pay off his debts. What punishment would be suitable for someone like this?

While this trial is over, all eyes are now on Tsang, who has been very low key in the last few years. After he was caught on a yacht hanging out with tycoons, the former chief executive may be the next one in the dock.

How many other senior civil servants took advantage of their positions too? If the Hong Kong government wants to regain any kind of credibility, especially post-Occupy, surely it needs to clean up house too...

No comments:

Post a Comment