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Hong Kong property tycoons Thomas and Raymond Kwok among 5 charged with corruption

Graft case involves a former top official, one of Asia's most powerful families and one of Hong Kong's biggest conglomerates.

Raymond Kwok Thomas Kwok 7 13 2012Enlarge
Raymond Kwok (L) and Thomas Kwok of Sun Hung Kai Properties walk towards a press conference in Hong Kong on Apr. 3, 2012. (AARON TAM/AFP/Getty Images)

Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption has charged Thomas and Raymond Kwok, the billionaire Sun Hung Kai Properties co-chairmen, and Rafael Hui, with corruption in a bribery investigation surrounding Asia's largest developer.

Another Sun Hung Kai director, Thomas Chan, and Francis Kwan, former non-executive director of New Environmental Energy Holdings, were also charged in a case that Agence France-Presse reported had shocked Hong Kong.

It involves one of Asia's most powerful families and one of Hong Kong's biggest conglomerates: Sun Hung Kai is the world's second-biggest listed property developer by market capitalization, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Sun Hung Kai helped to build some of the tallest buildings in Hong Kong.

The five men are charged with a total of eight offenses, including conspiracy to offer advantages to a public servant and misconduct in public office.

Bloomberg cited a statement from the ICAC as saying the Kwok brothers and two other men conspired to provide Rafael Hui with free use of two apartments and two unsecured loans for unspecified favors while Hui was Hong Kong's Chief Secretary.

The alleged offenses took place between 2000 and 2009 and involved land sales overseen by Hui involving Sun Hung Kai.

The Kwok brothers, whose fortune is estimated at $18.3 billion, were first arrested in March and have since maintained their innocence, CNN reported.

"I can say that personally I have done nothing wrong. And I can vouch for Mr. Thomas Kwok that he has done nothing wrong either," Raymond Kwok reportedly said at a news conference on April 3.

"I hope this investigation will clear my name."

Hui, 64, is the most senior official arrested by the ICAC, set up nearly 40 years ago to probe corruption in Hong Kong.

"This reminds the public about the problem of collusion between business and government," said James Sung, a political scientist at the City University of Hong Kong, told Bloomberg. 

According to CNN, all five men were granted bail after a hearing on Friday afternoon and the court case adjourned until October 12.

Hui and Kwan were ordered to surrender their passports.

Shares of Sun Hung Kai Properties were reportedly halted from trading.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/120713/hong-kong-property-real-estate-thomas-kwok-raymond-corruption