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Hong Kong Chief Received Secret Payments


Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

Australian media reported this week that Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying received payments from an Australian company. The Fairfax Media group says Mr. Leung received payments worth $6.5 million from the company in the last two years since he took office.

The group said the findings were based on a contract secretly given to its team of investigators. Mr. Leung was said to have signed the agreement with UGL, an engineering business, months before he became chief executive.

John Garnaut was one of the investigators. He works for two newspapers: the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age of Melbourne. He says his team was surprised to receive a copy of the contract last Sunday.

The reporter would not say who supplied the document. But he said the timing of its release was notable. It came eight days after the start of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The protesters have been demanding that Leung Chun-ying resign from office.

John Garnaut said his team had trouble getting Mr. Leung’s office to confirm the existence of the contract. The office later sent a statement to the Fairfax Media group. The statement said there is nothing illegal about the payments under Hong Kong law. It also said he was not legally required to report the payments. The statement said the money was related only to his past work, not for any future service.

In a separate statement, UGL defended its contract with Mr. Leung. The company described it as a normal business agreement when it purchased businesses belonging to DTZ Holdings, his former company.

Under the deal, he agreed to act as a business advisor to UGL from December 2011, when the company bought DTZ, a British property services business. He had been a top official at DTZ until he resigned 10 days before the UGL purchase.

Leung Chun-ying announced his candidacy for the Hong Kong leadership position on November 27, 2011. The leaked document shows that he agreed to receive the payments from UGL five days later, on December 2. The Fairfax Media report said UGL made the payments in both 2012 and 2013. Mr. Leung became Hong Kong’s top official in July of 2012.

John Garnaut spoke with VOA reporter Michael Lipin. He says Mr. Leung is caught between what he calls two “completely different” masters.

“One is in Beijing, who cares primarily about loyalty, who operates in an underground, you know, old underground, revolutionary fashion – all about patronage and secrets, including underhand money dealings. And there is, of course, the Hong Kong people, which is a completely different tier. It is a pluralistic, democratic society, people demanding open representation, and demanding that politicians answer questions. So C.Y. Leung is caught in between these two different systems."

Mr. Garnaut notes that at every turn, Mr. Leung has turned toward mainland China, and each time he does, he hurts his standing in Hong Kong. Mr. Garnaut also says the story is a sign of Hong Kong’s unresolved differences and how they are going to get “bigger and bigger over time.”

I’m Anna Mateo.

*This report was based on a story from VOA reporter Michael Lipin. George Grow wrote it for Learning English. The editor was Mario Ritter.

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Words in this Story

payments – n. money given for work done

investigators n. people who study or investigate all information about an event, situation or charge; to search for the truth

illegal adj. not legal; in violation of the law

business n. one’s work; buying and selling to earn money

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