Former Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang was sentenced to 20 months in prison for misconduct earlier today becoming the city’s highest-ranked official to ever be put behind bars.
As the the presiding judge Mr Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai read out his fate, the disgraced former leader of Hong Kong kept his eyes closed.
“Never in my judicial career have I seen a man fallen from so high,” the judge said, according to SCMP.
Immediately afterward, Tsang’s wife, Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei, emotionally vowed that they would appeal the decision.
The outpouring of support for Tsang among the city’s top leaders appears to have helped lighten his sentence. Ahead of his sentencing, the court was presented with 40 letters of mitigation from politicians like Carrie Lam, John Tsang and Wong Yan-lung, stressing the former chief executive’s diligent years of public services
Noting that fact, the judge cut Tsang’s sentence from 30 months down to 20.
Still, Chan emphasized that Tsang had broken the trust that the people of Hong Kong had placed in him as chief executive.
After the High Court refused to grant his bail application on Monday, the 72-year-old Tsang had spent the last two nights in the hospital after coming down with a “serious cough.” Last week, a jury delivered an 8-1 decision, finding him guilty of one count of misconduct in public office.
Tsang, the second chief executive of Hong Kong, serving from 2005 to 2012, was formally charged with two counts of misconduct in public office back in 2015 following years of investigation, becoming the highest ranking former Hong Kong official to be brought up on corruption charges. Both of the charges related to Tsang’s lease of a luxury flat in Shenzhen at a bargain rate.
Allegations of Tsang’s corruption began surfacing immediately as he was leaving office in 2012. His three-story 6,500 sq ft retirement penthouse in Shenzhen was reported to be a gift from the developer. Agents familiar with the situation said that the apartment could fetch around HK$50 million on the market with the developer already spending millions on its renovation alone.
Pictures of Tsang and wife wining and dining with high rollers on a triple deck luxury yacht were also splashed across local media. Tsang admitted he accepted the luxury yacht trip offered by a tycoon and joined in a banquet at a Macau casino resort, but said he paid his own way there “at market price.”
“I believe after this, no one will dare to invite me to their yacht. And no one will invite me to their private jets,” Tsang said at the time about the hell that his life had become.
Private yacht and jet trips certainly seem unlikely for the next 20 moths or so. Last week, a jury found that Tsang had deliberately concealed negotiations over the penthouse owned by businessman Bill Wong Cho-bau, just as he was approving applications made by a radio station of which Wong was a shareholder.
However, jurors were not able to reach a verdict on a bribery charge in which Tsang is accused of accepting a redecoration of his penthouse, costing Wong HK$3.35 million, for free.
Tsang will face a retrial on the charge, tentatively set for September.
[Images via Oriental Daily]
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