HK leader under pressure to explain Australian windfall

Hong Kong’s embattled leader Mr Leung Chun Ying faced growing calls on Thursday to explain why he kept large payments from an Australian company secret.

It comes as democracy activists behind days of mass rallies vowed a “new wave” of civil disobedience.

Pressure intensified on Mr Leung dramatically with opposition leaders saying he faced a “huge integrity problem” over his failure to declare payments made to him by Australian engineering company UGL.

Australia’s Fairfax Media reported on Wednesday that Mr Leung received two payments totalling HK$50 million (S$8 million) from UGL during a deal struck in December 2011.

The payment was made months before Mr Leung took office, but a week after he announced his candidacy. 

At the time UGL was purchasing the insolvent property services firm DTZ, where Mr Leung was a director and chairman of its regional operations.

It agreed to pay Mr Leung over the next two years not to compete with them, and the contract signed by him showed he agreed to act as an “adviser from time to time”.

Expressed dismay

Opposition lawmakers expressed their dismay that Mr Leung did not declare the payments to the Hong Kong public once he became leader in July 2012.

“It boils down to a huge integrity problem,” pro-democracy lawmaker Claudia Mo told AFP.

“Can you imagine Mr (Barack) Obama being a consultant of some company while being a political leader?”

Another lawmaker, Cyd Ho, urged Hong Kong’s parliament to investigate the payments and called on Mr Leung to explain himself publicly.

She said: “He should have cut himself off all business affiliations. This time it’s a very serious case. A statement cannot explain away all the queries from the public.”

Source: AFP


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