Deal lets fraudster avoid 15 charges

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 September, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 September, 1996, 12:00am

George Tan pleaded guilty after suffering a series of reverses in pre-trial battles.

Secret negotiations between his lawyers and the prosecution led to a last-minute deal which benefited both sides.

Under the bargain, Tan admitted two fraud plot charges involving US$238 million while avoiding 15 other counts.

He faces a sentence of up to seven years' jail on each and the Crown is satisfied the guilty pleas reflect his criminal activity.

The pleas also save a complex multimillion-dollar trial which was expected to span the handover and could have lasted 18 months.

In return, the prosecution has agreed not to proceed with any allegations of corruption.

Five charges of offering HK$42 million in bribes to Bank Bumiputra officials are to be left on the court file along with two fraud plot charges involving US$322 million.

The prosecution has also agreed not to pursue eight corruption charges at the District Court involving bribes which were allegedly paid to two executives of the German bank, WestLB, and to an executive director of Barclays Asia.

These involved HK$5.7 million cash and 668,000 Carrian shares.

Tan will be sentenced on the basis that he was a fraudster who dishonestly took huge risks with other people's money.

Prosecutor Martin Wilson QC said that Tan's poor health and the desire to avoid an expensive trial were important factors in the plea bargain.

Only a few weeks ago, Tan was still vigorously maintaining his innocence on all charges.