Witness did not ask for a lawyer, court hears

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 April, 2006, 12:00am

The ICAC did not tell a protected witness in a corruption investigation that barrister Kevin Egan had been looking for her because she never requested to see a lawyer, a senior officer in charge of the case told the District Court yesterday.

Chief investigator Patrick Ho Chi-ho said his subordinate, Daphne Lim Suet-san, immediately phoned her colleagues who were with Becky Wong Pui-see, a secretary at listed company Semtech International Holdings, in a safe house after Egan demanded to see her at the ICAC headquarters on July 13, 2004.

'We found that Ms Wong had no intention at all to see a lawyer. To my knowledge, she did not make any attempt to see Mr Egan,' he said, adding that it was a joint decision between him and Ms Lim not to inform the secretary about Egan's visit.

'Do you think that was fair on Becky Wong?' asked Graham Harris, counsel for solicitor Andrew Lam Ping-cheung, 53.

Lam, with Egan, 58, Semtech chairman Derek Wong Chong-kwong, 37, and his lover, Mandy Chui Man-si, 25, are accused of launching a campaign to pressure the ICAC into releasing Ms Wong, a potential witness against the Semtech chairman over alleged market manipulation.

The four plead not guilty to a joint charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Egan and Lam also deny charges in relation to disclosing the identity of Becky Wong to the press. Chui faces a count of perjury.

On Monday, Ms Lim told the court Egan had told her on July 13, 2004, that Chui, his client, received a call from the secretary, who said she was in ICAC custody and wanted to be released. But Mr Ho said yesterday that Ms Lim had not told him about the call.

John McNamara, counsel for Egan, asked Mr Ho if the matter would have been of 'astonishing significance' to him had he been told about the content of the call - since it was also on July 13 that Becky Wong signed her consent to enter the witness protection programme. The counsel said the chief investigator would have checked with Ms Wong on whether she wanted to stay with the ICAC.

'If Becky Wong really said that, I would feel astonished,' said Mr Ho. But he later said that he would not follow the matter up because the information originated from Chui, whom he considered unreliable.

Mr McNamara said Mr Ho's reply was 'absolute nonsense'. 'Let's not be silly ... Surely, you would have caused an inquiry.' Mr Ho insisted that he would not have asked Becky Wong about the phone call.

The case continues today.