Donald Tsang
Former Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang and his wife Selina arrive at the High Court as Tsang faces trial on charges of misconduct in Hong Kong, China on 3 January REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, the former leader of Hong Kong, on Tuesday (3 January) denied bribery charges against him. He is accused of accepting refurbishment and redecoration work for a luxury penthouse in the Chinese city of Shenzhen.

The septuagenarian leader also pleaded not guilty in the high court to one count of "chief executive accepting an advantage" and another two counts of misconduct in public office, Reuters reported.

The former leader was charged for accepting personal favours which included international flights on private planes, stints on yachts and a discount on a three-storey penthouse, which he had rented from the Shenzhen East Pacific Group, owned by property mogul Bill Wong Cho-bau in 2012.

According to Hong Kong's anti-graft agency, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), he failed to reveal his rental negotiations with Wong while his cabinet discussed and approved a digital broadcasting licence for a now defunct radio company, in which Wong was a major stakeholder.

In March 2012, he had apologised in public, saying: "We learn from our mistakes and learn to become more sensitive to public expectations. Over the past three-and-a-half years, I have assisted fully with the investigations by the ICAC. My conscience is clear. I have every confidence that the court will exonerate me after its proceedings."

Tsang, who was nicknamed 'bow tie Tsang' because of his sartorial flourish, became second Chief Executive and President of the Executive Council of Hong Kong from 2005 to 2012. The graft offences that Tsang currently faces were allegedly committed between 2010 and 2012, the year he retired as chief executive.