HONG KONG – Hong Kong's anti-corruption watchdog charged a former government secretary with fraud Wednesday over a housing scandal that erupted days after he was appointed by the city's new leader.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption said that former Secretary for Development Mak Chai-Kwong and another official, the assistant director of the Highways Department, Tsang King-man, face a joint charge of conspiracy to defraud the government of 700,000 Hong Kong dollars ($90,000).
The two are alleged to have abused a civil servant housing allowance by hiding the fact that they owned the apartments they rented to each other to claim the payments from 1985 to 1990. They also face five other bribery-related charges.
Mak was arrested on July 12, less than two weeks after taking office along with incoming Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.
The scandal rocked the government and is one of a number of controversies and missteps that have torpedoed the popularity of a leader who was hand-picked by a committee stacked with pro-Beijing elites.
Mak and Tsang each face a maximum of seven years in prison, a HK$500,000 fine and may be required to pay back the housing allowances.
Mak has previously denied any wrongdoing.