Hong Kong tycoons' brother arrested in graft probe

AP News
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Posted: May 04, 2012 2:20 AM
Hong Kong tycoons' brother arrested in graft probe

The former chief executive of Hong Kong developer Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. was arrested in a high profile anti-corruption probe that has already targeted his billionaire brothers and a top official.

Hong Kong's biggest property developer said Walter Kwok was arrested by anti-corruption police on Thursday night as part of an investigation into alleged bribery. Kwok, who is still a director of Sun Hung Kai, was later released on bail.

His brothers Thomas and Raymond Kwok, who are joint chairmen of Sun Hung Kai, were arrested in March by the Independent Commission Against Corruption along with a former chief secretary _ the No. 2 job in the government.

No one has been charged. Thomas Kwok, 60, and Raymond Kwok, 58, have denied any wrongdoing. They are estranged from their brother after ousting him as Sung Hung Kai's chairman and CEO in 2008 amid a bitter feud over control of the company.

The arrest announced Friday adds another twist to a scandal that has shocked and fascinated Hong Kong, where billionaire property developer tycoons who once occupied an exalted position in society are now viewed with growing mistrust.

Many residents are angry about a widening rich-poor gap driven by surging property prices and the scandal is the latest to highlight cozy ties between real estate companies and the government, which controls all the land in the densely populated city.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post newspaper earlier this week, Walter Kwok, 61, tried to distance himself from the corruption scandal and said he was intensifying his battle for control of the company.

The Kwok family is one of Asia's richest, with a net worth of $16 billion, according to Forbes. It estimates $2.3 billion has been wiped off their wealth since the scandal broke.

Sun Hung Kai has built some of Hong Kong's most recognizable buildings, including the 118-story International Commerce Center in Kowloon, the city's tallest.

The company said the latest arrest would not have any affect on its operations.

Five people, including another Sun Hung Kai executive, were also arrested earlier.