Democratic Party lawmakers raised more than HK$100,000 less than 12 hours after they launched a crowdfunding campaign to bankroll an international investigation into former Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying.
The investigation relates to an undeclared HK$50 million (US$6.4 million) payment he received from an Australian firm around the time he took office.
While Leung did not address the launch of Monday’s crowdfunding campaign, he labelled as “misguided” legal advice the party also filed to local prosecutors that said there was sufficient evidence for prosecutors to bring corruption charges against Leung.
He said he “reserves all rights to legal resource to protect his reputation” against one of the lawmakers, Lam Cheuk-ting.
The Democratic Party is seeking HK$2 million to fund the search for evidence as well as recruit lawyers and accountants to analyse information on the case. By Monday evening, 285 Hongkongers had donated more than HK$106,000.
“Our ultimate goal is to facilitate law enforcement agencies in Hong Kong, or even Australia, or Britain, to uphold justice and law,” Lam said in a press conference on Monday. “If anyone has acted against relevant laws in other jurisdictions, he should be held accountable.”
Since 2014, the Independent Commission Against Corruption has been investigating a payment of HK$50 million from Australian engineering firm UGL to Leung while he was the city’s leader from July 2012 to June 30, 2017.
Leung struck the lucrative deal following UGL’s 2011 purchase of DTZ, a property services company once listed in the UK, of which he was a director. As part of the bargain, he agreed not to form or join a rival firm and to help promote the company. He received part of the HK$50 million after becoming chief executive in 2012. But he did not declare any of the fee during a meeting with his cabinet, the Executive Council.
The Department of Justice did not respond to requests for comment on Monday. It said in February that it had not decided whether to press charges against Leung.
Lam, who filed a complaint to Britain’s National Crime Agency last November, also made public the legal advice by Queen’s Counsel Paul Harris to the agency last fall. It argues any talks between a DTZ director or employee and Leung regarding UGL’s takeover would fall under British law.
Asked if he was worried that Leung would sue the party for libel, Lam responded: “I shouldn’t be the one worrying about being sued. I don’t believe there’s a good case against us either. All the documents we have are open for public access.”
In a strongly worded statement issued by his lawyer on Monday, Leung slammed Lam’s remarks as “fundamentally and factually wrong”, and stated he reserved the right to any future legal action.
He said neither DTZ nor any other parties involved in the sale had voiced a complaint or inquiry to his agreement with UGL. That included the chairman of DTZ, Tim Melville-Ross, who “gave written consent on behalf of the board of DTZ” to negotiate the HK$50 million deal.
Leung revealed for the first time that Melville-Ross had advised him “not to attend future DTZ board meetings to avoid potential conflict of interest” on November 23, 2011, which Leung accepted.