Hong Kong corruption watchdog arrests Kwok brothers

Hong Kong's anti-graft body on Thursday arrested two of Asia's richest property developers, Thomas and Raymond Kwok, for alleged corruption as part of an ongoing bribery probe.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) said two senior executives and a former senior government official had been detained in connection with alleged bribery offences.

"Another senior executive of the listed company and four others were earlier arrested for their alleged roles in the same case. While enquiries are continuing, no further comments will be made," it said.

The commission did not name the suspects but Sun Hung Kai Properties, the property giant co-chaired by the Kwok brothers, confirmed their arrest in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange late Thursday.

"The company has been required to provide certain information with regard to the allegations to the ICAC pursuant to a search warrant pertaining to the company’s premises," it said.

The Kwoks had the full backing of the board and would continue in their current roles as co-chairmen and managing directors, it added.

Television footage showed Raymond Kwok entering the ICAC's offices earlier in the day.

State-run broadcaster RTHK reported that former chief secretary Rafael Hui also had been arrested.

The Kwoks are the southern Chinese city's richest real estate moguls and Sun Hung Kai is Hong Kong's largest developer by market capitalisation. The Kwok family's wealth is estimated at $18.3 billion by Forbes magazine.

The ICAC arrested senior Sun Hung Kai executive Thomas Chan earlier this month in relation to a bribery case, according to RTHK.

Shares in Sun Hung Kai and two of its units, SmarTone Telecommunications Holdings and SUNeVision Holdings, were suspended from trading in Hong Kong pending the release of price-sensitive information.

The blue-chip developer, which built and owns some of the most famous landmarks in Hong Kong, earlier reported an interim net profit of HK$21.13 billion ($2.72 billion) for the six months to December 31, 2011.

Revenue from property sales was HK$21,430 million, and net rental income amounted to HK$5,275 million.

The group has properties around Asia, including Hong Kong's Four Seasons Hotel, International Finance Centre and recently developed International Commerce Centre, the city's tallest building.

"Maintaining high standards of corporate governance is always an integral part of the group’s business philosophy," it said in the earnings report.

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