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Former Hong Kong leader jailed for graft

Donald Tsang, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive between 2005 and 2012, was sentenced Wednesday to 20 months in prison. 

A High Court jury Friday convicted Tsang of one count of misconduct in office.

He’s the highest-ranking public servant in Hong Kong to ever be jailed.

The nine-person jury found Tsang guilty of failing to declare a conflict of interest for a real estate transaction. It involved a businessman applying for a digital radio license from the government.

When Hong Kong’s cabinet approved the license application in 2012, Tsang was trying to buy or lease a penthouse for his retirement from the developer in nearby Shenzhen, China.

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. It has its own government with elected and appointed representatives and a Chief Executive, who acts as head of state.

Hong Kong’s powerful Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) prosecuted Tsang.

The ICAC is credited with keeping the territory among the world’s cleanest business environments. Hong Kong ranked 15 on the latest Corruption Perceptions Index.

Tsang, 72, joined Hong Kong’s civil service in 1967 during British rule. In 1995 he was named Financial Secretary and held the post during Hong Kong’s 1997 transfer to Chinese sovereignty.

He was knighted by the outgoing British rulers for his handling of the financial markets during the transfer.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.

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