The Department of Justice (DOJ) has decided not to prosecute a number of present and former pro-democracy legislative councillors who had been accused of receiving donations from media mogul Jimmy Lai and his assistant, Mark Simon, without declaring them.
Authorities said on Thursday that there is not enough evidence to push ahead with a case against former Labour Party legislator Lee Cheuk-yan and Civic Party chairman Alan Leong, while there is no evidence to suggest payments were even made to Democratic Party lawmaker James To, Claudia Mo from Hong Kong First, and the Civic Party's Tanya Chan.
They were all accused of receiving donations from Lai and Simon, without making the necessary declarations to the Legislative Council.
Members of the public filed complaints against the five to the ICAC, accusing them of misconduct in public office and of committing offences under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance and the Elections (Corrupt and illegal Conduct) Ordinance.
The DOJ said while evidence revealed that Lai offered HK$1.5 million to Lee and HK$300,000 to Leong, they might have received the payments on behalf of their political parties and not in a personal capacity. In that case, they would not have been obliged to declare the payments to Legco.
That had also been the finding of a judge in a trial against former League of Social Democrats lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, who was also accused of receiving money from the media tycoon without declaring it. Leung was acquitted last year.
As for To, Chan and Mo, the DOJ said there was simply no evidence to show that they had accepted any payments from Lai or Simon.
Chan said on Thursday she wasn't even aware that she was involved in the ICAC probe, as the authorities had never contacted her about it. But she said at least the facts were now becoming apparent.
"I'm pleased that the facts are now clarified and I hope that the people would accept the facts, especially after a few years of investigation," Chan said.
Mo said she had not been contacted by the ICAC either.
"I've always assumed that there's no case against me, because the ICAC never, never sent me any letter or asked me any questions. There was not even one phone call from the ICAC. The whole thing is rather farcical as far as I'm concerned, it's a political play," Mo said.