Of the nine defendants in the parallel case against convicted former Prosecutor General Ho Chio Meng, six were convicted yesterday by the Judiciary Council of Macau, while three were absolved of all charges.
The former Prosecutor’s wife, Chao Sio Fu, was found guilty of two crimes of failing to correctly declare assets and of one crime of unjustified enrichment, for which she was given a two-year prison sentence suspended for three years and six months.
Meanwhile, the Prosecutor’s older brother Ho Chiu Sun and his brother-in-law Lei Kuan Poon were sentenced to 13 years and 12 years in prison, respectively.
Businessmen Wong Kwok Wai and Mak Im Tai, were given 14 years and 12 years in prison, with the two being the only defendants already in detention.
Of the nine defendants, Wong Kwok Wai and Mak Im Tai were the only ones present at the sentencing yesterday and without the presence of their lawyer Pedro Leal.
Accused of several crimes of fraud for enjoying several benefits provided by the Public Prosecutor’s Office after being hired as a “fake employee”, Wang Xiandi was sentenced to six years in prison.
All charged defendants will be able to file an appeal against their sentences. Ho Chio Meng will not be able to appeal against the 21 years prison sentence he was handed by the Court of Final Appeal on July 14 due to his former position as a high official of the MSAR.
The former chief of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Antonio Lai Kin Ian, and the former chief of the Group of General Administration, Chan Ka Fai, were both absolved of all charges. Despite having worked on the fake companies set up by the other defendants, Alex Lam Hou Un, was also absolved.
Currently, the whereabouts of Ho Chiu Sun, Lei Kuan Poon, Wang Xiandi and Alex Lam Hou Un are unknown; Chan Ka Fai was uncontactable by the court, while Ho Chio Meng’s wife and Antonio Lai Kin Ian were absent from the sentencing for medical reasons.
Over a three-hour period, Judge Lam Peng Fai read the full sentences for the nine defendants, with the majority of charges pertaining to Wong Kwok Wai, Mak Im Tai, Ho Chiu Sun and Lei Kuan Poon, all of whom were considered to have formed a criminal association with Ho Chio Meng to obtain illicit profits from the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
According to the accusations, the defendants created 10 front companies that operated on the 16th floor of the Hotline Building, obtaining more than MOP50 million through 1,300 service contracts for the Public Prosecutor’s Office, during Ho Chio Meng’s term spanning 1999 to 2014.
“While Wong Kwok Wai and Mak Im Tai created the companies (…) Ho Chiu Sun and Lei Kuan Poon were responsible for the companies’ daily operations, accounting and expenses,” Judge Lam announced.
Arguments were presented that the former Prosecutor had maintained a special relationship with the defendants, with the judge mentioning Mak Im Tai said he had been a friend of Ho Chio Meng since the 1980’s, attended one birthday party of Ho’s father’s and with records showing that they had met several times in a sauna.
Meanwhile, Mak and his wife had six companies under their name solely dedicated to providing services to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, while “rarely appearing at the companies’ offices and only to sign cheques for worker payments”.
Wong Kuok Wai was considered someone “of great status” at the department, being allowed to enter the 16th floor while other department employees were not, with its companies continuously receiving service contracts from the public office.
Both businessmen were charged as co-authors of one crime of criminal association, one crime of fraud of considerable amount, 49 crimes of money laundering, and 1,096 crimes of illicit economic gains from public funds.
Meanwhile, Ho Chiu Sun and Lei Kuan Poon were also charged in the same amount, but being charged of 1,084 crimes of illicit economic gains from public funds, due to 31 cases of the same type having been prescribed.
All four defendants were absolved of seven accusations of aggravated money laundering.
Out and about
Meanwhile, Wang Xiandi was charged with four crimes of fraud and one crime of fraud of considerable amount.
Ms. Wang was hired for two periods from 2005 to 2006, first as consultant and from 2010 to 2014 as a non-resident worker assistant for judicial matters.
In the sentencing it was mentioned that it could not be proved that she had law qualifications that would allow her to obtain a position in the department, with regulations mandating residents should be favoured for public positions with “residents with legal degrees being plenty”.
“Other witnesses said they only saw her two or three times and only for one-hour periods (…) She didn’t have to use a uniform, punch in for work or present reports,” Judge Lam said.
It was considered that Ms. Wang had obtained several benefits from the department, such as having her phone call expenses covered and having a personal driver take her on several trips to Mainland China, with Ho Chio Meng “wanting to create the illusion” she worked in the department.
The court, however, absolved Ms. Wang from the trip to Dubai she took in 2009 with Mr. Ho with expenses paid by the office, since “there was no evidence she collaborated” in planning the trip.
Just following orders
Meanwhile, Antonio Lai Kin Ian and Chan Ka Fai, despite having approved and signed several service contracts during their management positions in the Public Prosecutor’s Office, were absolved of all charges, with the court considering both only following orders and with no knowledge of an illicit scheme.
“Mr. Ho was a respected justice authority in Macau; it would be hard for someone to suspect the orders,” the judge concluded.