Judge says Winnie Ho subjected to intimidation
The sister of Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho Hung-sun had been subjected to a thuggish campaign of intimidation aimed at making her drop litigation against him, a judge said.
Mr Justice Michael Hartmann in the Court of First Instance made the observation yesterday in a judgment in which he refused to allow Mr Ho to have the proceedings against him moved to Macau.
The judge was commenting on a series of attacks on the legal representatives of Winnie Ho Yuen-ki and to threatening letters she had also received.
'[The pattern of events] speaks of a concerted campaign of intimidation, the warning being 'Do not pursue litigation in Macau',' said Mr Justice Hartmann, who noted that the identity of the campaign's mastermind was not known. 'Without mincing words, it is an attempt by thuggery to prevent [Ms Ho] from pursuing what she believes to be her legitimate rights through the courts of Macau ... no other inference can reasonably be drawn.'
Ms Ho is suing Mr Ho and his close associate, Ambrose So Shu-fai, over her 2001 dismissal from the position of executive director of Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau, Mr Ho's Macau gaming venture. She was removed as a shareholder in 2005. Ms Ho has alleged Mr Ho and Mr So conspired to prevent her from selling her shares in STDM at full market value; that both men had defamed her; and, that one or both of them have actively retained payments due to her worth 1 per cent of STDM's net annual income.
Mr Ho and Mr So had sought to have the hearing moved to Macau on the basis that it is a more appropriate venue for the matter to be heard. The judge accepted their argument but said he could not allow the litigation to be moved there if it meant that Ms Ho or her representatives might be subjected to further harm.
Martin Lee SC, for Ms Ho, had cited the case of Ms Ho's first solicitor in the matter, C.K. Mok, who resigned after he was bashed by groups of men on two different occasions.
Additionally, Ms Ho had in May 2004 received threatening letters, one saying: 'Stop talking. Don't come to Macau. Remember C.K. Mok.' A second, typed letter in Chinese warned her that things were 'very bad' and dangerous in Macau, especially for an 'old lady' like her.
Her new solicitor, Albert Ho Chun-yan, had also received threatening letters. Then, in August last year, Albert Ho was subjected to a public beating which saw him admitted to hospital for several days. Mr Lee alleged the bashing was linked to the case.
While there was no proof to back up the allegation, the judge noted that the only common denominator between the crimes was the fact the solicitors were representing Ms Ho.
Mr Justice Hartmann ruled that hearing the case in Macau would, therefore, put Ms Ho at a disadvantage, and dismissed the application for a change of venue.