A married former Hong Kong official who misconducted himself by failing to declare a HK$510,000 payment from his lover while he was still in the government was jailed for nine months on Thursday.
Wilson Fung Wing-yip, 56, was found guilty last month on one count of misconduct in public office for keeping the government in the dark about his dealings with his then mistress, businesswoman Cheyenne Chan Ung-iok, 63, over a deposit that was four times his salary.
District judge Douglas Yau Tak-hong said a deterrent sentence in the form of immediate imprisonment was necessary as he noted that Fung’s misconduct had continued for two years and had dealt a blow to the public’s confidence in the civil service by damaging its credibility and affecting its reputation.
“The defendant is not being sentenced because of his love for Chan,” Yau said of the 13-year affair. “The defendant must bear all responsibility for the choices he made. His personal circumstances are not an effective mitigation.”
Sitting in the public gallery was Fung’s wife, head of the Policy Innovation and Coordination Office Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee, attending court for the first time since he was charged in August last year.
She nodded at him upon entering court but did not visibly react to the sentence.
“Won’t say anything. Thank you for your concern,” she told reporters outside court, ignoring further questions about whether she would forgive her husband.
The case centred on Chan’s settling an initial HK$510,000 deposit on a flat bought by Wilson Fung in 2004 while he was deputy secretary for economic and labour, handling aviation-related applications from her companies, Helicopters Hong Kong, HK Express and Heli Express.
At trial, Fung revealed an agreement with Chan for him to offset the HK$510,000 with profits he helped Chan earn from another property transaction, and said he only learned about her business identity through a letter on May 25, 2005, despite their affair having begun on December 10, 2003.
The pair were cleared of bribery charges after the District Court found they were madly in love by September 28, 2004, when the payment was made.
Yau ruled the HK$510,000 could therefore simply be part of property dealings between lovers, and unrelated to Fung’s job, as prosecutors had claimed.
But the judge also found that Fung must have lied about not knowing who Chan was, and did not declare it to the government nor abstain from handling her company’s bids.
Chan is the sister-in-law of gaming tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun.
Fung’s offence took place at the height of his administrative career.
The court heard he was one of 17 administrative officers to join the government in August 1985, after graduating with first-class honours from Chinese University.
While in office, he took part in the negotiations over the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and handled major infrastructure projects that included Hong Kong Disneyland, Cyberport, Science Park and the Central and Wan Chai Reclamation.
Fung also reformed the Hong Kong Productivity Council when he joined as an executive director after leaving the government in 2006, and handled the third runway when he moved on to the Airport Authority.
He left the authority in September 2018, more than two years after the scandal first broke in April 2016.
His defence counsel Joseph Tse Wah-yuen SC acknowledged that Fung did not take the most appropriate steps in handling the HK$510,000 but stressed it was an isolated incident and that he did not offer any favourable treatment because of it.
Misconduct in public office is punishable by seven years’ imprisonment and a fine.
This article Former Hong Kong civil servant jailed for nine months for failing to declare HK$510,000 payment from his lover, whose aviation applications he handled first appeared on South China Morning Post