Socialite appeals against fraud charge

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 February, 2007, 12:00am

Jailed socialite Mo Yuk-ping will challenge the validity of one of the charges against her in the Court of Final Appeal.

The city's highest court yesterday granted Mo permission to appeal against her conviction for conspiracy to defraud, on the grounds that the offence might be unconstitutional.

Mo was found guilty in January last year of two counts of conspiracy to defraud possible investors and was sentenced to concurrent two-year sentences. She was also found guilty perverting the course of justice and sentenced to 18 months' jail.

The Court of Appeal overturned one of the conspiracy charges last November on the grounds that the trial judge had failed to make the necessary findings for a conviction based on the prosecution's case.

On January 10, the Court of Appeal granted her a certificate to argue in the CFA that one of the charges she was convicted of was unconstitutional.

Clare Montgomery QC, counsel for Mo, argued yesterday that the CFA should, in addition to hearing argument about the constitutionality of the conspiracy offence, also consider four other issues relating to the charges of conspiracy and to perverting the course of justice.

Ms Montgomery suggested that the original District Court trial judge, Alan Wright, who was recently appointed to the High Court, had wrongly instructed himself as to how to treat the evidence of certain witnesses and had failed to express his findings clearly.

However, senior assistant director of public prosecutions Kevin Zervos SC said the judge had canvassed all the issues in great detail in the 164-page document that contained his reasons for judgment.

But Ms Montgomery said the offence was so broad and could take in so many different activities that it became essentially arbitrary in application.

'The line between shrewd-yet-questionable profit-making and dishonesty is very vague,' Ms Montgomery said.

The CFA agreed the issue was worthy of consideration.