Fraudster Lily Chiang praised as model citizen
High-profile businesswoman Lily Chiang Lai-lei was described as 'the very model of an ideal citizen of Hong Kong' who exhibits the best qualities, her lawyers said in a plea for leniency in sentencing yesterday.
The former chairwoman of the General Chamber of Commerce was convicted of a shares fraud on Thursday.
After being described as an 'author of dishonesty' by a judge, Chiang (pictured) yesterday handed in more than 40 letters written by prominent local figures to attest that she was a person of good character, a philanthropist, loving mother of four and a dutiful wife.
Among the writers were Nobel prize winning physicist Dr Charles Kao, distinguished academics such as Paul Chu Ching-wu, prominent politicians and Canto-pop star Sammi Cheng Sau-man.
Chiang was remanded in custody after District Court Judge Albert Wong Sung-hau refused to grant her bail. Sentencing was adjourned to Wednesday.
Asking for clemency yesterday, Adrian Bell SC, for Chiang, submitted the reference letters to court, saying she was a person of the highest character.
He said in each of the letters, the writers spoke of Chiang as a person of 'honesty, responsibility, selflessness and generosity'. Bell said Kao was 'happy to recommend her as a personal friend and admired her for her business acumen'. Kao also appreciated Chiang's commitment to the community, following the path of her father, prominent industrialist Chiang Chen. Kao suffers from advanced Alzheimer's disease.
On Thursday, Chiang was convicted of one count of fraud, one of conspiracy to defraud and one of authorising the issue of a prospectus that included an untrue statement in a series of actions seven years ago. She was guilty of designing a scam in which others held options or shares in two listed companies on her behalf, contrary to listing rules. Her co-defendants, Tahir Hussain Shah, 45, and Pau Kwok-ping, 54, were also convicted.
Reading more letters, Bell said Chu, the former president of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; the president of Lingnan University, Chan Yuk-Shee; and the former president of the Chinese University, Ambrose King Yeo-chi; had high regard for Chiang for her contribution to higher education in the city.
The court heard that Chu praised Chiang for philanthropy and said he saw 'compassion in her heart'.
Chiang had set up a charitable foundation under her name and had donated more than HK$7 million up to last year, Bell said.
James Tien Pei-chun, chairman of the Liberal Party, wrote in his letter: 'It's my pleasure and privilege to have known her for 15 years.'
In a touching letter, Chiang's husband, Gino Yu, wrote: 'In the eleven years that we've had children, Lily has not been away from them for more than a week, and when she was away, she would call several times a day. Lily being gone for an extended period will be devastating.'
Their children are aged between two and 11.
Chiang, in the dock, at times became emotional when her lawyer mentioned her children.
Yu also wrote: 'She has reformed which has brought greater serenity and acceptance.' He wrote that leniency in Chiang's sentence was 'an appeal for her redemption'.
Bell said nine years had elapsed between the crime and the conviction, and the likelihood of her reoffending was 'effectively zero'. She had a 'long medical history' and her health had been poor, he said.
The court heard that Chiang obtained her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Southern California in 1982. She also held a master's degree in business administration and a PhD in manufactory engineering. She was elected one of Hong Kong's Ten Outstanding Young People. She was also the first chairwoman of the General Chamber of Commerce.
Cheung Ka-fai, a former driver for Chiang, thanked his former employer for being his 'teacher and helpful friend'. He said with Chiang's encouragement and support, he became general manager of a company in Macau.