Billionaire developer Raymond Kwok, center, arrives at the Eastern Court in Hong Kong to face charges that he and four others, including his brother, gave bribes for lucrative information on pending land sales.
HONG KONG — In one of the biggest corruption scandals in Hong Kong in decades, two billionaire businessmen, a former high-ranking civil servant and two other men were charged Friday with bribery-related offenses, a development that could affect Hong Kong’s reputation as one of the least corrupt economies in the world.
The arrests in March of Raymond and Thomas Kwok, joint chairmen of Sun Hung Kai Properties, the biggest real estate company in Hong Kong, sent shock waves through the city and have been the focus of intense public attention ever since.
On Friday, the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption, or ICAC, charged the two brothers with bribery and misconduct.
The charges accuse the Kwoks and two other men — Thomas Chan Kui-yuen, executive director of Sun Hung Kai Properties; and Kwan Hung-sang, a businessman also known as Francis — of conspiring to provide Rafael Hui, the former chief secretary of the Hong Kong civil service, with the use of two apartments, as well as unsecured loans, in return for unspecified favors.
A total of eight charges were filed by the ICAC against the five men, including conspiracy to offer advantages to a public servant and misconduct in public office.
Sun Hung Kai did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Colin Cohen, a lawyer representing Thomas Kwok, declined to comment.
The case has generated particularly avid public attention because it involves not only some of the most high-profile people in Hong Kong but also a sector that is tied into the Hong Kong economic and social fabric like no other.
Sun Hung Kai was founded by the Kwoks’ father, and Forbes magazine earlier this year ranked Thomas and Raymond Kwok No. 27 on its list of the world’s billionaires.
The company is the builder and operator of some of the most prominent and most expensive buildings in the city.
The scandal also has ramifications beyond Sun Hung Kai. It is likely to fan public anger in Hong Kong at the links between government and business, perceived by many as being overly close, as well as the large gap between the incomes of the city’s superrich and its ordinary citizens. Hong Kong has one of the widest income discrepancies in the world.
A third brother, Walter Kwok, who is estranged from Thomas and Raymond and was ousted as chairman of Sun Hung Kai in 2008, was arrested in late May. He was not among those charged Friday.MORE IN World/National BusinessREDMOND, Wash. — Microsoft thinks it has the one. Full StorySAN FRANCISCO — Yahoo is buying online blogging forum Tumblr for $1. Full Story
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