February 20, 2017 / 9:20 AM / 3 years ago

Former Hong Kong leader remanded in custody ahead of sentencing

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Former Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang, the highest-ranking ex-official to be charged in the city’s history, was remanded in custody on Monday ahead of his sentencing later this week for misconduct in public office.

Former Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang and his wife Selina arrive the High Court in Hong Kong, China February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

A nine-person jury had earlier found that Tsang failed to disclose private rental negotiations with property tycoon Bill Wong Cho-bau while his cabinet discussed and approved a digital broadcasting license for a now defunct radio company, Wave Media, in which Wong was a major shareholder.

Tsang, 72, is due to be sentenced on Wednesday in what the judge said was unlikely to be a suspended sentence. He faces a possible seven-year sentence.

On Monday, Tsang, in a white shirt, dark suit and trademark bow tie, entered Hong Kong’s High Court holding the hand of his wife Selina. His family remained silent throughout the hearing.

Scores of high-profile Hong Kong officials, including chief executive candidate John Tsang, former No. 2 government official Anson Chan, veteran pro-democracy barrister Martin Lee and ex-chief justice Wong Yan-lung, wrote letters in support of the former Hong Kong leader.

Hong Kong central bank chief, Norman Chan, said in a letter that Hong Kong would not have survived the Asia financial crisis without him. Tsang was financial secretary at that time.

Tsang’s conviction adds to a number of scandals ensnaring powerful officials that have marred Hong Kong’s reputation as a relatively corruption-free society, while posing a challenge for China’s leaders who have strived to maintain stability in Hong Kong since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

Tsang, who had a long and stellar career in diverse senior posts in the Asian financial hub before and after the 1997 handover, was acquitted of a second misconduct charge.

Prosecutors said they were proceeding with a retrial on a bribery charge for which jurors failed to return a majority verdict, due to the seriousness of the allegations.

Tsang had pleaded not guilty to one count of accepting an advantage and two counts of misconduct in public office between 2010 and 2012.

Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Himani Sarkar

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