HONG KONG:Hong Kong’s former leader Donald Tsang, who ended his term in disgrace after accepting favors from tycoons, pleaded not guilty to bribery charges Tuesday at his high-profile corruption trial.
Tsang, 72, held the leadership post of chief executive for seven years from 2005 and is the highest-ranking Hong Kong official to face a corruption trial.
Wearing his customary suit and bow-tie, a somber-looking Tsang arrived with his wife at the city’s High Court over an hour before the hearing was scheduled to begin Tuesday.
He pleaded “not guilty” to three charges of misconduct and bribery.
The charges are linked to Tsang’s failure to disclose his plans to lease a luxury flat in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen from a major investor in a broadcaster — which at the time was seeking a license from the Hong Kong government.
Tsang allegedly approved the company’s application for the licence, and also failed to declare that an architect he proposed for a government award had been employed as an interior designer on the flat.
He has previously said that he had “every confidence” he would be exonerated.
The trial comes at a time when residents are losing faith in Hong Kong’s leaders, as a string of high-profile corruption cases fuel public suspicions over cosy links between authorities and business leaders.
Hong Kong’s unpopular current leader Leung Chun-ying also faces allegations of corruption over receiving a reported payment of HK$50 million ($6.5 million) from Australian engineering firm before he took office.
In 2014, Tsang’s deputy Rafael Hui was jailed for seven-and-a-half years after being found guilty of taking bribes from Hong Kong property tycoon Thomas Kwok.