Defence may seek mistrial for Lily Chiang

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 March, 2011, 12:00am

The fraud trial of businesswoman Lily Chiang Lai-lei was yesterday told of a shady man in a baseball cap who passed over to one of her co-accused what appeared to be police files on her personal assistant.

The defence counsel believes the information in the files raises questions about the credibility of a witness and could give rise to grounds for a mistrial or an application for a permanent stay of the proceedings.

Ex-General Chamber of Commerce chairman Chiang, 49, Tahir Hussain Shah, 45, and former chief executive of Eco-Tek Holdings Pau Kwok-ping, 54, are facing fraud charges brought by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Yesterday, with the defence due to begin laying out its case following Tuesday's ruling by Judge Albert Wong Sung-hau that the defendants had a case to answer, counsel for Shah, Kevin Egan, told the court that on Wednesday his client had been handed documents by the mysterious man in a baseball cap.

The documents appeared to be police case reports, two of which bear the name Yip Yuk-chun - a name identical to that of Chiang's personal assistant of 15 years. Yip has already testified under immunity.

One of the documents states that Yip was arrested on July 20, 2008 in possession of 17.29 grams of suspected cocaine. Another document, which mysteriously appeared on Shah's office desk in Quarry Bay on Wednesday morning, states that Yip was robbed on September 7, 2009. Yip's bag, which was later found, contained a bag, suspected to contain dangerous drugs.

Under earlier cross-examination, Yip told the court that she had never been arrested for drug offences and had never been found in possession of drugs, the court heard.

Egan - who believed the documents to be genuine - said that he had received information that shortly after Yip's arrest in July 2008 an ICAC officer had arrived at Sheung Shui police headquarters demanding to see the officers involved in Yip's case. The ICAC officer allegedly made it clear that Yip was an important person to the ICAC.

'The question that arises is that some two years and eight months later the [drugs] case remains open,' Egan said.

Chiang's counsel, Adrian Bell SC, said: 'If the ICAC had proceeded to Sheung Shui police station, called for help ... to get the case [against Yip] dropped, we're entitled to know this.'

Egan said answers to outstanding questions may give rise to a mistrial or an application for a permanent stay of the proceedings.

The third report concerns a man called Wong Wai-ming, whose name is identical to another prosecution witness, of whose history of arrests the defence was already aware.

Prosecutor Simon Westbrook SC said that these allegations were not new. In January, correspondence between the Department of Justice and the defendants' solicitors showed that the defence had made specific inquiries whether Yip had been the subject of a criminal investigation.

The department replied that: 'The ICAC has confirmed with the police that Yip Yuk-chun has never been arrested for criminal investigation,' the court heard. Westbrook said he would ask police about the matter and inform the court today.

Chiang was first arrested by the ICAC in October 2007 and charged in January 2008. The trial came after the Court of Final Appeal refused to give her leave to appeal against a lower court's ruling to deny her a jury trial.

Chiang denies five charges of fraud and making false statements. She allegedly pocketed more than HK$3.7 million by instructing others to hold share options or shares of two listed companies on her behalf, contrary to listing rules.