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Donald Tsang, Hong Kong’s former leader, has escaped a conviction of bribery in a trial that found him guilty of misconduct during his time at the helm of the city.
Tsang, 72, is the most senior city official to be convicted in a criminal trial – at a time when residents are losing faith in Hong Kong’s leaders.
The case is one of several recent scandals that have shaken public confidence and raised concerns about ties between Hong Kong’s leaders and wealthy businessmen.
Tsang was found guilty on Friday of failing to disclose his plans to rent a luxury flat from a major investor of a broadcaster, which was later granted a licence from the government while he was leader.
However, he escaped a bribery charge over allegations he had taken the redecoration and refurbishment of the apartment as a kickback, after the jury failed to reach a decision on that count.
Tsang, who was granted bail, was also acquitted on another misconduct charge which alleged he had failed to declare that an architect he proposed for a government award had been employed as an interior designer on the flat.
Sentencing is due to take place on Monday. He faced up to seven years in prison.
Al Jazeera’s Divya Gopalan, reporting from Hong Kong, said: “This guilty verdict is seen as a conclusion to the rise and fall of the long-serving and once very popular civil servant.
“Tsang was the chief executive of Hong Kong for seven years before he stepped down in disgrace in 2012, even before he could finish his second term in office.”
Our correspondent said the verdict came amid growing frustration and protests over ties between politicians and businesses, and has restored some faith in the city’s judiciary system.
“The verdict sends the message that relations between the business community and authorities will be closely watched,” she said.
Hong Kong, a global financial centre and a “special administrative region” of China, has served as a major hub for mainland capital since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997.
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