Hong Kong’s former leader in court on misconduct charges

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Hong Kong’s former top official Donald Tsang was released on bail Monday after appearing in court to face two counts of misconduct in a public office.

The former chief executive, who turns 71 in two days, walked into court steely-faced, in a dark navy suit with his signature bow tie, accompanied by his wife Selina.

After a three-year investigation, the Independent Commission Against Corruption charged Tsang earlier Monday with two charges of misconduct “which arose from corruption complaints.”

He is the highest-profile public figure to be charged by the commission.

“My conscience is clear. I have every confidence that the court will exonerate me after its proceedings,” Tsang said as he left the court, repeating a statement released earlier to the press.

One count of misconduct was in relation to a radio licence application by the Digital Broadcasting Corporation Hong Kong Limited, and a payment of 800,000 yuan (126,000 US dollars) to a major shareholder of the company for the lease of a 3-storey flat in the neighbouring Chinese city of Shenzhen.

The second was in connection with Tsang’s alleged failure to declare his intention to lease the apartment, and his recommendation that architect of the apartment be given official honours.

His wife said leaving court that her husband was a man of “honesty and integrity” and that they had wished to retire quietly after 45 years of public service.

He was released on bail for 100,000 Hong Kong dollars (12,900 US dollars) and the promise that he would report his itinerary at least 24 hours in advance if he intended to leave Hong Kong.

Tsang is due to return to court on November 13 to face the charges. Each count of misconduct could come with a maximum sentence of 7 years, prosecutor Alain Shan said.

Tsang’s case is the second high-profile case of public misconduct in the last year, since the conviction of former No. 2 official Rafael Hui in December. Hui is currently serving 7 and a half years on corruption charges.

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