March 20, 2012 / 2:48 AM / 7 years ago

Sun Hung Kai executive arrested over suspected bribery

The company logo of Sun Hung Kai Properties is displayed at a news conference in Hong Kong in this March 11, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/Files

(Reuters) - A senior executive at Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd (0016.HK) has been arrested by Hong Kong’s anti-graft body over suspected bribery, in a rare case involving Asia’s largest property developer by market value.

The Hong Kong-based company, run by brothers and joint chairmen Thomas and Raymond Kwok, said Thomas Chan Kui-yuen had informed it that he had been arrested by Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in relation to allegations of bribery. The Kwoks are Hong Kong’s second-richest family, according to Forbes magazine, with a net worth of $18.3 billion.

Chan, an executive director at the company, was responsible for project planning and land acquisitions.

The arrest “has not affected and will not affect” the normal business and operations of the company, the developer said in a statement late on Monday. The board has set up a special committee to handle the ICAC investigation, the statement added. It did not list the amount of money involved in the probe. A spokesman for the company said on Tuesday that it had no further details to add.

One analyst, who did not want to be identified given the sensitive nature of the allegations, said there had not been a similar case at a major Hong Kong developer since the analyst started covering the sector 15 years ago.

Shares of Sun Hung Kai, which has a market value of around $39 billion, slipped 1.5 percent at the start of trade in Hong Kong on Tuesday morning, with the benchmark Hang Seng index down 0.3 percent.

According to a Reuters database, Chan, 65, has worked at Sun Hung Kai for 25 years and has been a director since 1987. Sun Hung Kai develops property in Hong Kong and mainland China and holds a portfolio of office space including Hong Kong’s tallest building, the International Commerce Centre.

Sun Hung Kai Properties in February reported an underlying profit of HK$11.8 billion ($1.52 billion) for the fiscal first half ended December 31, up 13 percent from a year earlier, slightly exceeding expectations.

The number of property deals in Hong Kong fell 33.1 percent in 2011 from the previous year as the government imposed a series of measures to stamp out property speculation and cool the city’s housing market.

Reporting By Sisi Tang and Alex Frew McMillan; Editing by Michael Perry and Muralikumar Anantharaman

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