According to Agence France-Presse, Hong Kong’s former deputy leader Rafael Hui and property tycoon Thomas Kwok have been jailed after being convicted of corruption.

Hui, 66, was sent to prison on Tuesday (23rd December)  for seven and a half years after being found guilty of five graft charges, including misconduct in a public office, making him the highest-ranking official in Hong Kong’s history to be convicted of taking bribes.

Kwok, 63 – who was joint chairman of Hong Kong’s biggest property company, Sun Hung Kai – was sentenced to five years after he was found guilty of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office over a series of payments totalling HK$8.5m to Hui.

The seven-month trial centred on a total of HK$34m in handouts which the prosecution said were made to Hui by Kwok and his billionaire brother, Raymond, to be their “eyes and ears” in government.

Raymond Kwok was cleared of all charges and Thomas cleared of two of the three against him.

Judge Andrew Macrae told Hui before sentencing: “To know that the former number two in government had received bribes must be a deep disappointment to many people in Hong Kong,” he said. “It is vitally important in these times the Hong Kong government and business community remain and are seen to remain corruption free, particularly when the mainland is taking obvious and positive steps to eradicate the cancer of corruption in their own jurisdiction.”

In sentencing Kwok, he said he had no doubt that he was “at heart a good man”. Macrae said he had considered a maximum sentence of six years but handed down one year less to account for Kwok’s good character.

Before the sentencing hearing, Macrae had described the case as difficult. “One is dealing with otherwise decent men who are not young, but who have committed serious offences,” he said, adding that going to prison would be a “particular hardship” for the defendants.

The payments to Hui were said to have been made via a series of complicated transactions involving middlemen.

Two middlemen, Sun Hung Kai former director Thomas Chan and Francis Kwan – the former non-executive director of investment firm New Environmental Energy Holdings – were also found guilty of two charges. Chan was sentenced to six years while Kwan was given five years.