Former Macau minister to learn fate tomorrow

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 January, 2008, 12:00am

Former Macau minister Ao Man-long will hear the judgment on his 76 counts of bribe-taking, money laundering, abuse of power and other charges tomorrow at the city's top court.

Ao, former secretary for transport and public works, was arrested in December 2006 and has been battling graft charges at the Court of Final Appeal since last November.

He faces up to 25 years in jail if convicted. Macau has neither the death penalty nor life imprisonment, and jail terms for serious crimes are generally capped at 25 years. Exceptional cases may carry 30-year terms.

But sources say that if convicted, he is likely to get a sentence far below the maximum penalty, given the prosecution's failure to account for the bulk of his wealth and an absence of key witnesses during his trial.

Less than a third of Ao's HK$800 million fortune was accounted for during the trial. Three of the four bribery suspects have disappeared.

The prosecution listed 41 public works projects for which Ao allegedly took HK$240 million in kickbacks from four businessmen: Ho Meng-fai, of San Meng Fai Engineering and Construction; Tang Kim-man, of Tong Lei Construction and Engineering; Chen Dongsheng, of Chon Tit Macau; and Frederico Marques Nolasco da Silva, of CSR-Macau.

The former minister's father, Ao Veng-kong, younger brother Ao Man-fu and sister-in-law Ao Chan Wa-choi - Ao Man-fu's wife - went on trial this month on money laundering charges. The case could run until March.