* Kwoks own Hong Kong's second-biggest family fortune
* Lawyer says no charges brought despite arrest
* ICAC does not identify those arrested
By Alex Frew McMillan and Joy Leung
HONG KONG, March 29 Hong Kong's Independent
Commission Against Corruption on Thursday arrested two senior
company executives, identified in the media as Sun Hung Kai
Properties tycoon brothers Raymond and Thomas Kwok,
for corruption, it said.
The Kwoks own $18.3 billion, the second-biggest family
fortune in Hong Kong, according to Forbes magazine, second only
to Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing, founder of rival developer
Cheung Kong (Holdings).
The ICAC also said it had arrested a former senior
government official, whom the South China Morning Post
identified as former chief secretary Rafael Hui, who has worked
as a special adviser to Sun Hung Kai.
Sun Hung Kai said it would issue a statement shortly.
The ICAC announced on its website that the people arrested,
whom it did not identify, were "alleged to have committed
offences under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance and
misconduct in public office".
"Two senior executives of a listed company in Hong Kong and a
former principal official of the Hong Kong Government have been
arrested for suspected corruption," the ICAC said in a
Gary Plowman, a former government prosecutor, said he had
been to the ICAC and was representing one of the arrested
parties whom he declined to identify.
"Nobody has been charged," Plowman said. As for what
happened next, that was "a very good question".
"We react, we're not proactive. We are reactive in these
situations," he said.
The ICAC was set up in 1974 to root out what was seen as
widespread corruption in the Hong Kong government at the time,
especially in the police.
It acts as a law-enforcement agency, able to arrest and
detain suspects, and prosecutes cases in conjunction with advice
from the Department of Justice.
Steve Vickers, former commander of the police Criminal
Intelligence Bureau and now CEO of a risk and security
consulting company, said the timing of the case was interesting,
in the context of popular sentiment against property developers
and rising house prices.
"These cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute," he
said. "It will be interesting to see whether charges emerge or
The ICAC said another senior executive of the unnamed listed
company and four others were arrested at an earlier date in
connection with the case.
ARRIVAL BY LIMO
Over the past four decades, Sun Hung Kai, listed in 1972,
has built some of the city's most expensive property, including
luxury hilltop apartment blocks and harbour-front skyscrapers,
including Hong Kong's tallest building, the International
Commerce Centre on the Kowloon peninsula.
The company said 10 days ago that Thomas Chan Kui-yuen, a
Sun Hung Kai Properties board member and the executive
responsible for project planning and land acquisitions, had been
arrested for suspected bribery.
Cable TV footage on Thursday showed Raymond Kwok entering
the ICAC premises in a limousine, flanked by two unidentified
men. The station also showed images of a lawyer for Thomas Kwok
going into ICAC headquarters.
It was not clear if the suspects were being held.
Shares in Sun Hung Kai Properties were suspended in Hong
Kong on Thursday, as was trading in two of its subsidiaries,
mobile phone company SmarTone Telecommunications and
data-centre operator SUNeVision Holdings.
Raymond Kwok is chairman of all three, the only person on
the board of all the companies suspended.
The Kwoks took the helm at Sun Hung Kai after a bitter
family feud in 2008, which ended with eldest brother and
then-chairman Walter Kwok Ping-sheung being demoted.
One analyst, who did not want to be identified given the
sensitive nature of the issue, said any involvement of Hui,
chief secretary from 2005 to 2007, suggests the case dates back
"It has to be a very old project," the analyst said.
On Thursday, the Hong Kong stock exchange suspended Sun Hung
Kai, SmarTone Telecommunications Holdings and SUNeVision
Holdings Ltd, ahead of what the companies said was a
potentially price-sensitive announcement.
Sun Hung Kai was down 1.51 percent before the suspension,
while SUNeVision was down 0.88 percent. SmarTone had been
trading up 2.2 percent before trading was halted.