Versions differ on deletion of files

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 July, 2012, 12:00am


Gavin Shiu, a senior Department of Justice prosecutor, and his secretary yesterday gave seemingly conflicting testimony when asked in court yesterday about the deletion of files related to a fraud trial.

Shiu, a senior assistant director of public prosecutions with 18 years' experience in the department, and his secretary, Rebecca Nip Sau-ching, each took the stand in the District Court, which is hearing an application for a stay of the trial proceedings. Shiu had been ordered to testify yesterday.

The defendants in the case, including the former vice-chairwoman and directors of Hong Kong-listed Yueshou Environmental, are seeking the documents in the trial, which was adjourned last month because of the missing evidence.

The District Court had earlier heard that documents relating to the case had been deleted from department computers.

Daniel Marash SC, for the prosecution, earlier said Shiu and Nip were suspects in relation to the missing material. After being told to find the material sought by the defendants, Shiu said he had instructed Nip to search for the files.

She presented him with a list of items, but he glanced at it and found nothing of note. He asked her to transfer them to a USB flash drive and then delete them from the system. 'I was concerned my secretary would get dragged into a conflict with my colleagues,' he said, in explaining the deletion of the documents. 'That's one of the reasons. It was a momentary decision. I regret that now. I apologise ... It seemed like a good idea at the time.'

He denied telling his secretary not to speak to anyone if approached about what had happened.

But Shiu's account appeared at odds with that of Nip, who also testified yesterday. Nip said Shiu had handed her some documents and asked her to transfer electronic copies of them from the department's computer system onto a USB flash drive before deleting them from the system. 'He told me to do that, and I had to do that,' she said.

She declined to answer when asked by defence counsel Jonathan Caplan QC whether Shiu had instructed her not to speak if anyone approached her.

Of Nip's account of what had occurred, Shiu said: 'No, I don't think that's right ... she might be a bit confused.'

Shiu also denied he had been the main point of contact at the department for defence counsel in a meeting they and senior prosecutor Denise Chan Fung-shah attended together, pointing instead to Chan.

The trial concerns fraud allegations involving the misuse of letters of credit at Yueshou. The firm's former vice-chairwoman, Kelly Cheng Kit-yin, 57, her daughter Carmen Cheng Wei-ming, 37, and three company directors are charged with 11 counts of conspiracy to defraud and two counts of dealing with the proceeds of an indictable offence.

The defendants claim that the liquidators of a subsidiary company had offered not to pursue a criminal complaint against them in exchange for HK$38 million. As part of their case, they have been seeking documents relating to the correspondence between the police, prosecutors and the liquidators. Five of the deleted documents had been recovered, Marash told the court earlier.

District Judge Douglas Yau Tak-hong adjourned the case to September 6, when lawyers for both sides are to present their closing submissions on the defendants' application to stay the proceedings. Bail conditions for the defendants were extended.