A married former Hong Kong official who served nine months in prison has lost an appeal to clear his name for failing to declare a payment from his lover while he was still in public office and handling her business applications.
The Court of Appeal on Tuesday ruled against Wilson Fung Wing-yip after finding his misconduct conviction – for which he was jailed in 2019 – was sound.
The 57-year-old husband of Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee, acting chief executive of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, was found guilty of keeping the government in the dark about his relationship and monetary dealings with his then lover, businesswoman Cheyenne Chan Ung-iok, the sister-in-law of late gaming tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun.
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The high-profile case centred on Chan paying the initial HK$510,000 (US$65,000) deposit on a Mid-Levels flat Fung bought in 2004, while he was deputy secretary for economic development and labour. He handled aviation-related applications from Chan’s companies: Helicopters Hong Kong, HK Express and Heli Express.
During his defence, Fung revealed a 13-year love affair with Chan that stole the spotlight at the trial, but said he did not know she was a shareholder or director in those companies. Looking back, he conceded there was a potential conflict of interest, which he did not declare to the government.
The District Court found the payment could simply be part of property dealings between lovers and acquitted the pair of bribery charges, but ruled that Fung was guilty of misconduct in public office by failing to declare an obvious conflict of interest.
On appeal, defence counsel Joseph Tse Wah-yuen SC argued that the trial judge was “plainly wrong” in finding Fung must have known about Chan’s business identity when he accepted the payment for buying the flat in September 2004.
But Court of Appeal vice-president Mr Justice Wally Yeung Chun-kuen observed that the lower court’s conclusion was based on a meticulous analysis of overall evidence and reasonable deduction.
Yeung agreed that Fung must have known who Chan was and that he had a duty to make a disclosure and abstain from handling the various applications from her companies.
The judge further concluded that Fung had made a deliberate decision not to disclose or act, because “he obviously knew his conduct was improper”.
“The trial judge’s verdict was correct, reasonable and in line with the principles laid down in the relevant cases,” Yeung wrote in a 32-page judgment.
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