Hong Kong Billionaire Will Return to Prison After Final Appeal Is Rejected

This city's highest court upheld the convictions of a billionaire property tycoon and a disgraced No. 2 government official, bringing to a close the highest-profile corruption scandal here in recent memory.

The case tainted Hong Kong's reputation as a clean-operating Chinese city and showed how a top official with a taste for the high life could fall from grace because he took bribes from a real-estate titan.

Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. tycoon Thomas Kwok and former Chief Secretary Rafael Hui were convicted in 2014 of conspiracy stemming from bribes that Mr. Kwok made to Mr. Hui in 2005.

Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal unanimously ordered Mr. Kwok back to prison to serve the remainder of his five-year term. Mr. Kwok, 65 years old, was released on bail in July after a lower court granted his application to appeal the case. Mr. Hui, 69, will serve the remainder of his 7 1/2 -year sentence.

In its ruling, the court said Mr. Hui's independence as a public official was "hopelessly compromised" by Mr. Kwok's bribes.

Mr. Kwok relinquished his management roles at Sun Hung Kai -- a $45 billion property company responsible for much of this city's glittering skyline -- when he was convicted in 2014.

His younger brother Raymond, who was acquitted in the 2014 trial, remains chairman of the blue-chip developer, while Mr. Kwok's son, Adam Kwok, joined the company's board.

On Wednesday, Adam Kwok said he was disappointed by the court's decision. "Even if we don't understand or agree, we respect the court's decision," he said outside the courtroom.

Sun Hung Kai shares were flat in Wednesday trading, while the benchmark Hang Seng Index was slightly lower.

The court also upheld the convictions of two intermediaries in the bribery, including a former Sun Hung Kai executive.

Write to Joanne Chiu at joanne.chiu@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 14, 2017 12:31 ET (16:31 GMT)