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Betty Fung refutes conflict of interest

April 01, 2016

Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Betty Fung has refuted “groundless” accusations made in a weekly publication about her property transactions, adding that the report was based on speculation and suspicion.


The publication reported today that Mrs Fung was accused of potential conflict of interest as a civil servant in a flats-swap deal.


In a statement issued this evening, she said negotiations on the property she currently occupies were handled solely by an estate agent and throughout the process she had never been in touch with the other party to the transaction.


Mrs Fung made it clear that the other party is a registered company in Hong Kong, but she did not know the identity of the company’s shareholders before receiving the media enquiry, adding that the company representative who signed the transaction agreement was not the Ms Chan mentioned in the report.


The statement also noted that the price difference between the two properties was recommended by the estate agent having regard to the valuation made by the banks and subsequent bargaining carried out by the estate agent, adding that the transaction price reflected the two properties’ actual situation including the furnishing status.


She pointed out that she had paid the ad valorem stamp duty rates at the higher rate (Scale 1) in full, in accordance with the difference in the value of properties as assessed by the Inland Revenue Department.


Mrs Fung noted that she had sought legal advice in advance for the transaction and was given to understand that the form of property transaction is in compliance with relevant legislation, including the specifications and regulations as stipulated in the Stamp Duty Ordinance, adding that the arrangement was not special treatment.


As any person can adopt this form of property transaction, there is no potential conflict of interest between the form of transaction and the identity as a civil servant, she noted.


Mrs Fung explained that she was Director of Leisure & Cultural Services at the time and had reported the transaction to the Home Affairs Bureau in accordance with the Civil Service Declaration Rules in a timely and factual manner.