Skip to main content

Hong Kong tycoons in the dock as city's biggest ever corruption trial opens

By Paul Armstrong, CNN
updated 2:43 AM EDT, Thu September 4, 2014
Thomas Kwok (C) is surrounded by the media and security as he arrives at court in Hong Kong on October 12, 2012.
Thomas Kwok (C) is surrounded by the media and security as he arrives at court in Hong Kong on October 12, 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Property tycoons Thomas and Raymond Kwok in court on graft charges
  • Charges include conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office, furnishing false information
  • Their company, Sun Hung Kai, built some of the tallest buildings in the city's celebrated skyline

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Two billionaire brothers who control Asia's biggest property development company have gone on trial in Hong Kong's biggest ever corruption case.

Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) co-chairmen Thomas and Raymond Kwok were among five people charged with a total of eight offenses, including conspiracy to offer advantages to a public servant and misconduct in public office, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) said in a statement.

The two brothers are ranked 86th on the 2014 Forbes list of the world's richest people.

Hong Kong's former chief secretary Rafael Hui, banker Francis Kwan and Thomas Chan -- responsible for land acquisitions for SHKP -- were the other men charged after one of the biggest anti-graft probes in the banking hub's history.

READ: Tycoon arrests rock Hong Kong

Hong Kong tycoons profess innocence

Hui, previously the city's No.2, faces charges related to misconduct in public office, including the acceptance of rent-free apartments and unsecured loans -- he's the highest-ranking former official to face trial in the city.

All five defendants plead "not guilty" to each of the charges.

The ICAC revealed the offenses took place between 2000 and 2009 as investigators probed land sales overseen by Hui involving SHKP.

The case has caused a media frenzy in the city, where real estate is a local obsession. Sun Hung Kai, which helped to build some of the tallest buildings in the city's celebrated skyline, contributed to the Kwok brothers' estimated $18.3 billion fortune.

The brothers, who were arrested in March 2012, have always protested their innocence.

"I can say that personally I have done nothing wrong. And I can vouch for Mr. Thomas Kwok that he has done nothing wrong either," Raymond Kwok said at a news conference on April 2012, referring to his brother.

"I hope this investigation will clear my name," he said at the time.

Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China, is considered to be one of the world's least corrupt territories. According to Transparency International's 2013 Corruptions Perceptions Index, Hong Kong is the 15th least corrupt territory in the world -- with the United States, by comparison, ranked 19th.

CNN's Vivian Kam contributed reporting.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:21 AM EST, Thu November 27, 2014
The first human trial of an experimental Ebola vaccine has produced promising results, U.S. scientists said.
updated 9:15 AM EST, Thu November 27, 2014
Darren Wilson, the police officer who fatally shot unarmed black teen in August abandoned home after address made public.
updated 5:36 PM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
HBO -- backing a documentary based on "Going Clear," a book about Scientology and Hollywood -- isn't taking any chances with legal side.
updated 2:35 PM EST, Wed November 26, 2014
Grandmaster Nguyen Van Chieu has devoted his adult life to spreading the word about Vietnames martial art, Vovinam.
updated 6:36 AM EST, Thu November 27, 2014
England cricketer Nick Compton shares insight into "drive and courage" it takes to face fears as top batsman.
updated 7:59 PM EST, Wed November 26, 2014
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson says he was just doing his "job right" when he shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown.
updated 8:18 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
The interior of the Formosa Boulevard Mass Rapid Transit Station in Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan.
Stunning stations where your first priority won't be finding the nearest exit.
updated 6:18 PM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says women's "nature is different," sparking fury.
updated 5:43 AM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
A 30-year-old woman has been charged with attempting to kill a baby police say spent five days down a drain before being discovered by cyclists.
updated 8:21 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
If it wasn't for a comic's skit, Bill Cosby would still be America's favorite father, says expert.
updated 7:51 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
Where do hip young things hang out in Taiwan?
updated 10:50 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Obama orders the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration in decades, prioritizing the deportation of "felons, not families."
updated 4:06 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Fighters loyal to ISIS are now in control of Derna, a city on Libya's Mediterranean coast.
updated 6:19 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
China and likely other countries have the capacity to shut down the U.S. power grid, says the NSA.
updated 2:45 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
The founder of a U.S. nonprofit that works with returning soldiers is named CNN's Hero of the Year.
updated 12:03 PM EST, Thu November 27, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT