|LCQ6: Measures to allay public concerns about conflict of interests on the part of the Chief Executive
Following is a question by the Hon Leung Kwok-hung and a reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in the Legislative Council today (January 23):
The Chief Executive (CE) has stated earlier through the CE's Office that he has a 99.9 per cent shareholding of Wintrack Worldwide Ltd (the company), a company registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), and claimed that we can rest assured because the company only holds the shares of a foreign branch of DTZ and is not involved in DTZ's business in Hong Kong, the Mainland and Taiwan. However, after checking the information on the company, some members of the media have queried that CE is manipulating behind the scene DTZ, which has business in Hong Kong, through the company. Some members of the public have also queried that CE has concealed his interests in the company, and there is a conflict of interests between his ownership of the company and CE's duties. To allay public concerns and dovetail with the fulfillment of CE's pledge of working in an open and transparent manner, will the Government inform this Council whether it will revise the existing requirements on declaration of interests to stipulate that the incumbent CE has to make public if he owns any overseas registered company and the details of the business of such companies (including whether the companies are still in operation) and, under the revised requirements, has to take the initiative to make public the details of the company, the foreign branch of DTZ held by the company or other interests which have not been declared; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that, as well as how the public can be convinced that the incumbent CE's ownership of an overseas registered company which is in operation is not in breach of the requirement in Article 47 of the Basic Law that "[t]he Chief Executive …… must be a person of integrity, dedicated to his or her duties"?
In consultation with the Chief Executive (CE)'s Office, I am authorised to respond to Member's question on behalf of the Administration as follows:
The current mechanism for the CE's declaration of interest is set out below:
Firstly, according to Article 47 of the Basic Law, the CE, on assuming office, shall declare his or her assets to the Chief Justice (CJ) of the Court of Final Appeal. The declaration shall be put on record. The CE has made the declarations to CJ in accordance with the requirement of the Basic Law.
Secondly, in his capacity as the President of the Executive Council (ExCo), the CE has declared his registrable interests based on the arrangement applicable to ExCo Members. His declaration and the details of the system of declaration of interests by ExCo Members have both been uploaded to the website of ExCo for public inspection.
Thirdly, although the CE is not a politically appointed official (PAO) and therefore not subject to the regulation of the Code for Officials under the Political Appointment System (the Code), he has declared his financial and other interests based on the arrangement applicable to PAOs under the Code. The CE's declaration has been uploaded to the website of the CE's Office for public inspection.
The CE has declared his ownership of Wintrack Worldwide Ltd (BVI) and its subsidiaries according to the declaration systems stated above. The press release issued by the CE's Office on August 13, 2012 pointed out further that the Wintrack Worldwide Ltd (BVI) and its subsidiaries hold the shares of a foreign branch of DTZ. The business operation of that foreign branch does not touch upon Hong Kong and the Mainland. The CE has already relinquished all his duties in DTZ and has started to transfer his shares of Wintrack Worldwide Ltd (BVI) and its subsidiaries, and his 7,227,838 shares of DTZ Holdings Plc and its subsidiaries, to a trust. Therefore, besides holding the aforementioned shares, the CE is not involved in the business operation of Wintrack Worldwide Ltd (BVI) or DTZ.
The first mechanism mentioned above is a requirement under the Basic Law. The second mechanism applies to Members of the ExCo, while the third mechanism is similar to the one applicable to PAOs. The Government has no plan to amend the existing mechanisms which are working effectively.
Ends/Wednesday, January 23, 2013