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Billionaire Kwok brothers arrested in Hong Kong

Raymond and Thomas Kwok, joint chairmen of Hong Kong’s biggest real estate company Sun Hung Kai Properties and two of Asia’s richest property tycoons, have been arrested in Hong Kong on suspicion of corruption.

Kwok brothers hong kong 2012 03 29Enlarge
Billionaire brothers Raymond (L) and Thomas Kwok, joint chairmen of Hong Kong’s biggest real estate company Sun Hung Kai Properties, were arrested Thursday by the Independent Commission Against Corruption in connection with a probe into suspected bribery offences. (PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Two of Asia’s richest property tycoons have been arrested in Hong Kong on suspicion of corruption.

Billionaire brothers Raymond and Thomas Kwok, joint chairmen of Hong Kong’s biggest real estate company Sun Hung Kai Properties, were arrested Thursday by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in connection with a probe into suspected bribery offences, the firm said in a statement, according to The New York Times.

Sun Hung Kai said the ICAC had issued a search warrant for its offices and the company had “been required to provide certain information with regard to the allegations,” adding that the “arrests have not affected and will not affect the normal business and operations of the Group,” according to Fox News.

The ICAC also arrested Hong Kong’s former No. 2 official, Rafael Hui, on suspicion of bribery and misconduct in public office, The Wall Street Journal reports.

No charges have been filed against Hui or the Kwok brothers, who inherited their late father’s property empire and took over at the helm of Sun Hung Kai after ousting their elder sibling Walter in 2008.

The brothers possess the second-biggest family fortune in Hong Kong according to Forbes magazine, and their firm has built some of the most iconic skyscrapers on the city’s skyline.

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The ICAC was established in 1974 to tackle widespread corruption in the Hong Kong government and in the police forces. It operates as a law-enforcement agency, empowered to arrest and hold suspects and prosecute cases in cooperation with the Department of Justice, according to Reuters.

Steve Vickers, former commander of the police Criminal Intelligence Bureau, told the news agency that the timing of the arrests was interesting, with the city’s widening wealth gap fuelling criticism of perceived collusion between property developers and government officials.

“These cases are notoriously difficult to prosecute,” he said. “It will be interesting to see whether charges emerge or not.” 

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