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HK leader sorry for tycoon links

Hong Kong's leader has apologised for shaking public confidence as investigators probe allegations he accepted favours from tycoons.

The case has added to growing concerns about links between leaders and business elite in the former British colony.

The city's anti-corruption watchdog is investigating Chief Executive Donald Tsang over allegations he received yacht and private jet trips and a luxury apartment rental for his impending retirement from wealthy friends.

"This series of events has worried the public, the media, legislators and civil servants and shaken Hong Kong's public trust," Tsang told politicians. "I deeply apologise to the public." He appeared to choke up after making the apology.

Tsang said he would "co-operate fully" with the corruption investigation, which was launched after Avery Ng, the vice chairman of the League of Social Democrats, a small political party, filed a complaint with the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

The watchdog is not allowed to confirm any investigations but Ng said it informed him that a probe has been launched, which would be the first ever for a Hong Kong leader still in office.

Tsang is stepping down in July and his replacement will be selected later this month.

In February, one of his possible successors, Henry Tang, was engulfed in a scandal that dented his already-low popularity after reports emerged that his family home in an upmarket Kowloon neighbourhood had a luxurious but illegally built basement.

Citing privacy concerns, Tsang would not disclose the names of any of the tycoons involved to legislators, who were worried that they were trying to influence government contracts.

Tsang has acknowledged the travel and apartment rental, which included taking a chartered jet to Japan, a private jet to Phuket, Thailand, and a trip to Macau on a friend's private yacht. He reiterated today that he paid for the travel. Tsang also said he would give up the 6,780-sq ft (630 sq m) apartment in Shenzhen, across the border in mainland China,

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