Man in court over rape claim linked to hotpot scandal

A man appeared in court on Monday charged with attempted rape, in a case which reportedly led police to bust three top government officials for flouting public gathering rules.

Chen Fen is accused of trying to rape a woman in a flat in Happy Valley on the night of March 2 this year, his defence lawyer told the media at Eastern Court.

That same evening the heads of immigration and customs Au Ka-wang and Hermes Tang, and Undersecretary for Security Sonny Au attended an expensive hotpot at a private club in Wan Chai, along with several others.

Police say it was during their investigation into the attempted rape allegation that they found out about the dinner – which had breached gathering restrictions imposed amid the pandemic – and those present at the hotpot were later given HK$5,000 fines.

The authorities have stressed that the three government officials are not linked to the alleged attempted rape case. They have also denied that the expensive meal – which they say was paid for by a host who hasn’t been named – broke civil service rules on hospitality.

Eastern Court adjourned Chen’s case to July 30 and he was released on bail.

As he left court, Chen did not respond to reporters’ questions, including whether he is the senior executive of property giant Evergrande Group who reportedly attended the March 2 hotpot.