A former leader of Hong Kong faces misconduct charges over a luxury apartment rental in mainland China, authorities said Monday, setting the stage for the city’s most high-profile corruption trial in recent memory.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption in a statement that Donald Tsang faces two counts of misconduct in public office.
The agency said Tsang was due to appear in a magistrate’s court in the afternoon.
The allegations date from before Tsang left office in June 2012 and concern a discounted luxury apartment rental in neighboring Shenzhen in mainland China from a wealthy friend.
It’s one of several recent cases that have shaken public confidence and raised concerns about cozy ties between wealthy tycoons and the city’s leaders.
The anti-corruption agency said that Tsang “willfully misconducted himself” when he failed to publicly declare that he was in talks to lease the Shenzhen apartment at the same time the apartment’s owner was applying for a license from the government.
The second charge stems from Tsang’s alleged failure to disclose that an interior designer he had hired to redecorate the apartment was also someone he had proposed for a government honor.
“The decision to commence prosecution against Mr. Tsang was made after careful and thorough consideration of the available evidence, the applicable law and the relevant provisions in the Prosecution Code,” the Department of Justice said in a statement.
Tsang took office in 2005, becoming Hong Kong’s second post-colonial leader, or chief executive. Before that, he was financial secretary of the former British colony, when he led the effort to successfully defend the city’s currency peg against speculators during the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.