Hong Kong -- Two of Asia's richest and most influential property tycoons were arrested Thursday in Hong Kong on suspicion of corruption, a case that has also ensnared a former top government official in one of the city's most high-profile bribery allegations in recent memory.
The arrests of the two chairmen at family-controlled Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. is a blow to the blue-chip company, one of the world's biggest real-estate developers, which has built some of the most iconic skyscrapers in Hong Kong's skyline. In a city where a small group of powerful organizations control real estate, transportation, supermarkets and communication, the sight of two tycoons walking into government offices to answer questions in a corruption case was riveting.
Thomas and Raymond Kwok were arrested Thursday by Hong Kong's anti-graft agency, Sun Hung Kai said in a statement. The Independent Commission Against Corruption also arrested the city's former No. 2 official, Rafael Hui, also on suspicion of bribery and on suspicion of misconduct in public office, a person familiar with the situation said. Sun Hung Kai also said the ICAC searched the company's offices Thursday.
The two Kwok brothers are heirs to their late father's property empire, taking the helm of Sun Hung Kai after ousting elder brother Walter in 2008, following a feud that erupted into a nasty boardroom battle and resulted in the appointment of their octogenarian mother as chairwoman the firm.
The ICAC issued a statement saying that two senior executives of a listed company in Hong Kong and a former principal official of the city's government have been arrested on suspicion of corruption. The company's shares were halted from trading early Thursday, some 20 minutes after the market opened.
No charges have been filed against the individuals. Hong Kong's laws, which are modeled after the British legal system, empower law-enforcement agencies to detain or offer bail to suspects before deciding whether to file criminal charges against them. No details were available about the case.
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