Hong Kong Won’t Prosecute Ex-Leader Over Claims of Conflict of Interest

Hong Kong Won’t Prosecute Ex-Leader Over Claims of Conflict of Interest

HONG KONG — Hong Kong prosecutors said on Wednesday that they would not pursue charges against the territory’s previous leader, who had received millions of dollars from a company that also had a contract with the city’s subway system.

The former leader, Leung Chun-ying, who was Hong Kong’s chief executive from 2012 to 2017, came under suspicion in 2014, when it emerged that the Australian company UGL had agreed to pay him $6.4 million.

UGL has extensive connections with the MTR Corporation, which runs Hong Kong’s subway, and held a longstanding contract then worth about $41.9 million to maintain 120 train cars.

The allegations of conflict of interest added to calls for Mr. Leung’s ouster during the Umbrella Movement, the large-scale street protests in 2014 calling for more open democracy.

Hong Kong’s anti-graft body, the Independent Commission Against Corruption, investigated Mr. Leung’s dealings with UGL. But the Department of Justice said it had decided that the results were insufficient to warrant prosecution because there was “no reasonable prospect of conviction of a corruption charge against Mr. Leung.”

The 2011 deal for UGL to pay Mr. Leung was part of a sale of a company that he had once run. While the arrangement was made before he became chief executive, the money was paid out while he was in office.

The Hong Kong government owns 75 percent of MTR and appoints its chairman. But the company said that it had not awarded any new contracts to UGL before Mr. Leung’s arrangement was revealed. Mr. Leung said he had no oversight of day-to-day transportation policy, and MTR said contracts were reviewed by board members without knowledge of the bidder’s names.

Still, the multimillion-dollar payments added to growing criticism of Mr. Leung, who was consistently less popular than his predecessors and left office without pursuing a second term.

Holden Chow, a pro-establishment lawmaker, was also investigated for allegedly working with Mr. Leung to interfere with a legislative investigation into the deal. The Department of Justice said on Wednesday there was insufficient evidence to charge Mr. Chow with misconduct in public office.

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