HK tycoon Thomas Kwok in brief stop outside anti-graft HQ

HONG KONG, April 10 — Hong Kong property billionaire Thomas Kwok mystified journalists covering one of the city’s biggest corruption scandals today, driving up to the anti-graft agency’s offices, parking briefly outside and then leaving without getting out of his car.

Thomas Kwok in his limousine outside the ICAC headquarters. — Reuters picThomas Kwok in his limousine outside the ICAC headquarters. — Reuters picThomas Kwok, co-chairman of property developer Sun Hung Kai Properties, and his brother Raymond, the other co-chairman, were arrested on March 29 on suspicion of corruption, though no charges have been filed and they are free on bail.

Local media had speculated that the brothers would appear at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) today for the second time since their arrest, so a media pack of reporters, photographers and TV crews was waiting.

But when Thomas Kwok’s black, chauffeur-driven limousine pulled up, he stayed in the car for about five minutes and then the car pulled away, said a Reuters photographer at the scene. There was no sign of his brother.

The brothers are worth US$18.3 billion (RM56.1 billion), according to Forbes magazine. A Sun Hung Kai official, Thomas Chan, and Rafael Hui, an adviser and Hong Kong’s former No. 2 government official, have also been arrested as part of the investigation.

The ICAC can call the Kwoks in for questioning as many times as it wishes during the course of its investigation. The agency then hands the information it has gathered over to Hong Kong’s department of justice, which decides if it has enough evidence to prosecute. Such investigations can take months to assemble.

Shares in Sun Hung Kai Properties, which has lost about US$5 billion or around 15 per cent of its market value since the arrests, were down 0.5 per cent this morning.

The Kwoks have sought to reassure investors about the outlook for the developer, saying in a brief press conference last week that it was business as usual at Asia’s largest property company by market value.

The investigation is the biggest case launched by the ICAC since it was set up in 1974 to root out graft. — Reuters


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