'Chaotic' filming led to discovery of contracts
Concerns raised by TVB staff during the filming of a programme in Macau led to the discovery of unseen contracts entered into by the station's executives, the court hearing corruption charges against general manager Stephen Chan Chi-wan and two others heard yesterday.
Several days after shooting started on the TVB All Singers Anniversary Special at the City of Dreams casino resort in November 2009, it became apparent that the project was riddled with unexpected difficulties, the District Court heard yesterday.
'The production department said traffic arrangements were not going smoothly. They joked that colleagues were on the verge of sleeping on the street because hotel arrangements were chaotic,' TVB's assistant general manager Au Wai-lam testified.
Initial filming did not meet the expectations of the sponsor, Melco Crown Entertainment, and the crew had to bring singer Leo Ku Kui-kei to Macau for more filming, he said.
Co-defendant Wilson Chan Wing-shuen, who had negotiated the deal with Melco, was questioned about what he had promised the sponsor during an internal meeting, Au said. It was then that group general manager Mark Lee Po-on decided to look into the issue, he said.
Lee ordered the accounts department to check agreements signed between TVB and Melco, but the sales department did not present them for months. He finally told Au to chase up the contracts personally last year.
'I assigned my secretary to get the contract from [Wilson] Chan ... then Chan suddenly showed up with the contracts within 10 minutes,' he said.
It was then that he noticed there were two contracts: a tripartite agreement between TVB, Melco and Idea Empire, headed by Stephen Chan's former assistant Edthancy Tseng Pei-kun, and another between TVB and Idea Empire. Au found the terms suspicious, he told the court.
The sponsorship offered by Melco was HK$5.2 million, much higher than the HK$4.5 million mentioned in earlier meetings.
He was shocked by the sum promised to Idea Empire for logistics services. 'The amount [paid to Idea Empire] was unbelievable,' Au said.
Wilson Chan and Tseng deny defrauding TVB of HK$550,000 during the organisation of the show.
Stephen Chan denies conspiring with Tseng to receive HK$112,000 in bribes and defrauding TVB. He and Tseng deny cheating five actresses out of HK$300,000 in commission. The trial continues today.