ICAC officer told witness to conceal contact, court hears

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 March, 2011, 12:00am

A man the Independent Commission Against Corruption accused of being part of gang that manipulated the derivatives market to the tune of HK$100 million and then laundered the proceeds says he was offered a phone card by a graft investigator who then asked him to throw it away to conceal their forbidden contact, a court heard yesterday.

Cheung Ching-ho is one of five people arrested by the ICAC in 2008 in connection with the alleged racket.

Cheung, 39, was originally offered immunity from prosecution, but later refused to testify and was charged with conspiracy to defraud. His lawyers are trying to get the proceedings stayed on the grounds that he will not get a fair trial.

Warrant trader Cheung yesterday told the District Court that Ben Chan Kai-hung, 36, one of three ICAC officers charged with intending to pervert the course of public justice and misconduct in public office, offered him a phone card so that the two men could communicate after he testified in court.

Contact between ICAC officers and witnesses is illegal.

'Ben said he would give me a phone card and would call me,' Cheung said. 'He said he wanted to see me a day after I gave testimony in court. He would arrange the place. He asked me to throw away the phone card after I finished attending court to avoid people knowing that we had contact.'

Cheung earlier alleged that graftbusters coached him to give false evidence in exchange for immunity.

The court heard that he began to worry as he had not got the letter of immunity, even after court proceedings began.

He alleged yesterday that chief investigator Kevin Cho Wing-nin, 46, taught him to tell the court he lost all his money on horseracing.

'Kevin wanted me to say I had lost all my money,' Cheung said. 'He said 'if somebody asks you which horse you lost the money on, you say you don't know'. But I was worried that when asked, I wouldn't be able to tell which race I placed the bet on, the date of the race ... and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to remember the names of the horses.'

It has also been alleged that Cho taught Cheung to say his horseracing hobby depleted his assets, which would render it unnecessary for his assets to be frozen.

The court heard that Chan taught Cheung 'extremely good tricks' to use when being cross-examined by defence counsel.

'Ben said if the defence asked about something that was not included in my statement and asked me why I hadn't told that to the ICAC, the model answer was that they never asked about such things.'

The court heard that Cho showed him surveillance videos of Cheung and his colleagues taken in Elizabeth House in Causeway Bay.

Cho, Chan and Au Kim-fung, 42, are accused of inducing Cheung, between November 3 and December 4, 2009, to give false evidence in a criminal trial. They also allegedly supplied information from other witness statements to enhance his credibility.

The hearing continues.