From hard time to har gow: Tycoon Thomas Kwok marks release from prison with dim sum

Property tycoon Thomas Kwok (center) arrives at the Court of Final Appeal to receive his judgment in 2017. Photo via AFP.

Real estate billionaire Thomas Kwok celebrated his early release from prison today in typically Hong Kong fashion: by ordering dim sum.

The former co-chair of Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd., the city’s largest developer, Kwok was serving a five-year sentence for conspiring to bribe Hong Kong’s then-deputy leader Rafael Hui to be his “eyes and ears” inside the government. Kwok was released more than a year early thanks to good behavior, Bloomberg reports.

“The thing I want to do the most? Go home,” Kwok, 67, told reporters outside Stanley Prison today. “I have already ordered dim sum.”

According to the Bloomberg Billionaire’s Index, Kwok is the fifth-richest person in Hong Kong, alongside his brother Raymond, with a personal fortune of US$12.4 billion. Raymond was also implicated in the bribery scandal, but was acquitted at trial.

While Kwok said today that he didn’t have immediate plans to return to work, he did seem to suggest he would at a later date.

“There were a lot of changes in the company in the four years that I was absent,” he said.

“I need to catch up with the changes in the world and Hong Kong. I would like to visit other countries to study how to incorporate technology into the business.”

Kwok’s seven-month trial centered on some HK$34 million (about US$4.3 million) in handouts made to Hui. According to the judgment, the payments were made to ensure an “ongoing inclination” on the part of Hui towards the Kwoks’ company.

Hui, for his part, was handed a seven-and-a-half-year sentence, becoming the highest-ranking official in Hong Kong history to be convicted of accepting bribes.

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