Billionaire Hong Kong property tycoons Thomas and Raymond Kwok along with former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan pleaded not guilty in court today, the opening of the biggest corruption trial in Hong Kong’s history.
The Kwok brothers, joint chairs of the development giant Sun Hung Kai Properties, were arrested with Hui in March 2012. Hui is accused of receiving 34 million HKD in bribes and other financial inducements from the brothers, according to AFP, in a massive case that has cast a light on links between property developers, officials and China’s “guanxi” culture.
“This case will reinforce the public perception that the Hong Kong government has been vulnerable to the possible influence of the capitalist class,” Sonny Lo, head of Social Sciences at the Hong Kong Institute of Education told AFP.
The proceedings will shine a spotlight on the culture of “guanxi”, or personal connections, which is long entrenched in Chinese business culture, analysts said.
“Sometimes there’s a fine line between corruption and guanxi,” Tanrich Securities vice president Jackson Wong said.
The three were among five people charged with eight offenses including furnishing false information, conspiracy to offer an advantage to a public servant and misconduct in public office. All defendants pleaded not guilty, according to a live blog from SCMP following the case.