Hong Kong’s Eastern Magistrates court has acquitted former Standard Chartered private banking head Ryan Gwee Yuan Kerr of a bribery charge.
Brought by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), Gwee was charged in January for accepting a bribe of $150,000 from Teng Wen-Chung, the former chairman of Singfor Life Insurance (Singfor).
Teng had been charged for embezzling NT120 billion ($4 billion) from the Taiwanese insurance company.
Magistrate Lam Tsz-kan said the ICAC failed to prove that Gwee was paid a bribe in relation to handling Teng’s and Singfor’s accounts at StanChart, including securing approval for an increase to $100 million in credit to them.
The magistrate agreed that Gwee played no part in the opening of the accounts, which was assigned to StanChart’s relationship management team and approved by its relevant committees.
Morever, there was no evidence to show Gwee knew about the ownership of the collateral for the loan, or that he was concealing any information from the bank.
The magistrate also noted that the alleged $150,000 bribe was transferred nine months after the approval of the credit facility to Teng and his companies.
While Gwee did not deny receiving the money, he maintained it was a payment for rare wines that he had bought on Teng’s behalf.
Gwee, who worked with StanChart in Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai for more than a decade, was managing director and head of private banking for China before he left in 2011 to set up a private equity firm.
He is now the co-founder and CEO of the Asia Capital Pioneers Group, which provides consultancy to family offices on investments and philanthropy.