Prosecutors summarise case against Ho
Yesterday was the first of the two days reserved for the final summing up of the trial of former Prosecutor General Ho Chio Meng, as the current 154-day trial reaches its final stages.
The session at the Court of Final Appeal took place only in the morning with corruption trial Assistant Prosecutors Chan Tsz King and Kuok Un Man taking turns to summarise the 1,536 accusations against Mr. Ho and the statements made by each and every witness who took the stand.
“We make these final statements with a heavy heart since we’re talking about someone who was our superior and held a high position in the city’s judicial system. However, nobody is above the rule of law and Mr. Ho should have ensured he followed all the legal procedures a function of his stature should entail,” Assistant Prosecutor Chan said in his opening remarks.
“The prosecution will try to prove and make evident the role he had [regarding] the accusations made against him by presenting the evidence and statements collected during court hearings,” he added.
The court session was also attended by Mr. Ho’s former main defence lawyer, Leong Weng Pun, who was replaced by lawyer Oriana Inácio Pun after abandoning his position claiming unfair treatment by the court’s judges towards the defence.
“The pressure involved in the case has always been high but we’re confident,” lawyer Oriana Pun told the press.
The prosecution will complete its final statements today, followed by the defence’s last statements.
Summary of yesterday’s final remarks regarding main accusations against Mr. Ho
Accusation: 7 fraud and 1 embezzlement instances related to benefits obtained by alleged Prosecutor’s Office consultant Wang Xiandi to a value of MOP4.2 million.
The final remarks by the prosecution started with the accusation of benefits related to Wang Xiandi, a former employee of the Public Prosecutor’s Office hired for two periods from 2005 to 2006 and from 2010 to 2014.
According to the accusation, Ms. Wang was hired by the former top official as an assessor of the department despite her lack of qualifications for the position, having worked previously as an air hostess until 2005.
The prosecution stated that there were no records of the positions Ms. Wang held in the department, with former employees saying they only saw her in the department five times over a four year period.
It was also mentioned that Ms. Wang accompanied Mr. Ho on many outbound trips financed by funds from the Office at least 18 times, including a trip to Dubai in 2009 and to Shanghai in 2010.
The former prosecutor has stated Ms. Wang was hired on a ‘confidentiality’ status serving as an assistant in investigations that involved Mainland China officials, but the prosecution mentioned the disappearance of Ms. Wang as proof of guilt.
“Mr. Ho said we didn’t question Wang but where is she? Why has she not co-operated with the investigations?” the prosecution asked.
Accusation: 1 crime of criminal association or possible nine crimes of abuse of power regarding embezzled public funds of MOP3.3 million in rents from the property of the Public Prosecutor’s Office with almost MOP50 million in benefits obtained from public contracts awarded to 10 front companies managed by the alleged criminal organisation.
The prosecution sought to present Mr. Ho as the leader of a criminal association involving his older brother Ho Chiu Shun, his brother-in-law Lei Kuan Pun, and defendants Wong Kuok Wai and Mak Im Tai.
“We believe Mr. Ho was the leader of an association that possessed three requirements to be considered a criminal association under the law – stability, structure and illicit acts – despite not including acts of violence,” the prosecution alleged.
The prosecution believed Mr. Ho had a close relationship with the defendants, based upon notebooks found in his house and on the phone call wiretap recording revealing the defendants had contacted Mr. Ho for advice upon knowing they were under investigation.
The other defendants were said to be in charge of the 10 front companies based on the 16th floor of the Hotline Building, with the former top official having a major role in attributing more than 1,300 service contracts for the Public Prosecution Office until he finished his functions.
The prosecution considered it too much of a “coincidence” considering the close ties between Mr. Ho and the defendants running the companies, and the former top official being the main person responsible for allowing the system to operate.
“How can three employees without specific qualifications manage so many companies, and have the Prosecutor’s Office as their only client? (…) Mr. Ho gave his permission and altered some of the service contracts . . . Did the highest superior not know the details of these contracts?” the prosecution asked.
Accusations: 18 accusations of fraud using public funds to lease an area on the 16th floor of the Hotline Building and a residence in Cheoc Van for private use, expending MOP12.5 million of public funds
On the pretext of receiving and accommodating officials from Mainland China, the former top official was accused of using public funds to pay the rent of a resting room on the 16th floor of the Hotline Building since 2006 and a Cheoc Van residence with a monthly rent of MOP48,000 since 2000.
The presence of several of Mr. Ho’s personal belongings in both locations was held up by the prosecution as proof that the former official was using the properties for his own use.
“We believe Mr. Ho wanted to get [the Cheoc Van residence] (…) In 15 years no private money was used for the house (…) A search revealed private objects, a sauna, children’s toys and a fish pond,” the prosecution stated.
Mr. Ho requested several officials from judicial representatives from Mainland China testify on his behalf that they were hosted and received in the areas but the prosecution noted how the majority declined to take the stand.
Accusation: 1 crime of destruction of public property, value unknown
The prosecution also mentioned the accusations against the former top official of destroying materials under government property [care] for having allegedly moved valuable agar wood confiscated by the Macau Customs between 2013 and 2014 to the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
This move was allegedly done without a written request to Customs, something stated by the prosecution as an attempt to not leave traces that Mr. Ho wanted to obtain the agar wood.
“Mr. Ho made the decision to transport the apprehended agar wood to the Office building saying it was placed in the 5th floor archive room. This kind of procedure is not normal,” the prosecution mentioned.
The final remarks mentioned witnesses heard in court stated the former top official showed a great deal of interest in the valuable wood saying at least five pieces were not in good conditions and could only be used for educational purposes . The witnesses then said in 2015 he requested the “most beautiful pieces” be sent to the resting room on the 16th floor where they remained for one year.
“As a Prosecutor can he do whatever he wants? Can he take evidence or drugs from other cases?” Assistant Prosecutor Kuok Un Man asked.
The missing agar wood was only returned in February 2015 upon the request of current Prosecutor General Ip Son Seng, with Mr. Ho claiming they were never moved out of the office building but with the prosecution arguing some of the pieces were in the resting room on the 16th floor and in the house at Cheoc Van.