Magistrate's silence leads to retrial for trader
A former magistrate's refusal to state his reasons for acquitting a futures trader on market manipulation charges after he left the bench to become a Baptist evangelist has led to a retrial.
Court of First Instance judge Mr Justice Michael Lunn yesterday ordered the retrial of Tsoi Bun on five market manipulation charges involving HK$2.2million after finding in favour of the Securities and Futures Commission. The commission had argued that an appeal against Tsoi's acquittal by Eastern Court would be rendered impossible if former deputy magistrate Thomas Chan Chun-yee, now a preacher, did not explain his decision.
Tsoi's prosecution was the first criminal market manipulation case brought by the Securities and Futures Commission. He is alleged to have placed orders to manipulate the prices of futures contracts during the pre-market opening period on five days in 2007. Tsoi had been found not guilty on January 20 last year, after which the SFC filed an appeal.
However, the commission had been unable to obtain Chan's written reasons for his decision as he had ceased practising law.
'The expectation that the deputy magistrate would accept a reappointment and continue with the proceedings has proved to be too optimistic,' Lunn said. He ordered the retrial because the amount involved in the charges was substantial.
The Magistrates Ordinance provides for a retrial if an appeal is 'rendered impossible by the death, absence or incapacity of the magistrate'. Lunn ruled that the term 'absence' could mean absence from judicial office.