ICAC officer quizzed on lawyers decision

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 April, 2006, 12:00am

A senior ICAC investigator was yesterday questioned in the District Court on why she failed to inform a woman being held at the agency that lawyers had arrived to meet her.

Daphne Lim Suet-san, officer in charge of the alleged Semtech International Holdings market manipulation case, said that lawyer Kevin Egan had come to the Independent Commission Against Corruption office on July 13, 2004, demanding to see Becky Wong Pui-see, a potential witness in the case.

Egan threatened to call the police and make a habeas corpus application to the High Court if he was not given immediate access to Ms Wong, she said. The lawyer had also said that he was instructed by the lover of Semtech chairman Derek Wong Chong-kwong, Mandy Chui Man-si.

Ms Lim said she had told Egan that Ms Wong was not at the ICAC. Nicholas Adams, counsel for Chui, cited the Basic Law right to legal representation under Article 35 and accused Ms Lim of 'deliberately frustrating the attempts of lawyers to see Becky Wong'.

Lawrence Lok Ying-kam SC, counsel for Derek Wong, asked Ms Lim why she did not follow normal procedure and let Ms Wong decide whether to see the lawyers. Becky Wong is on the witness protection programme.

'You would normally communicate to the person that 'a lawyer wants to see you' and ask the person, 'do you want to see a lawyer?' And you let the person make this decision,' Mr Lok said.

He then asked Ms Lim what laws, regulations or guidelines permitted her to turn away lawyers without informing Ms Wong of their presence.

Ms Lim replied that, as Ms Wong was not a 'detained person', such procedures did not apply to her. She said ICAC officers were merely 'accompanying' Ms Wong.

But Mr Lok said Ms Wong's movements were monitored and controlled: 'She could tell ICAC officers 'you can go now and give me a few moments of quietness'? Could she do that?'

'She had the right to do so,' Ms Lim replied.

Egan, 58, solicitor Andrew Lam Ping-cheung, 53, Derek Wong, 37, and Chui, 25, who are accused of pressuring the ICAC into releasing Ms Wong, to stop her giving evidence against the Semtech chairman, have pleaded not guilty to a joint charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, among other charges.

The case continues today.