Swire directors jailed 3 years for Macau bribes
A judge labelled two former directors of a Swire Pacific subsidiary 'victims' as he jailed them for three years and three months yesterday for conspiring to bribe Macau's disgraced former secretary for transport and public works.
Lionel Krieger, 63, and James Tam Ping-cheong, 57, directors of Swire-Sita Waste Services, were convicted of conspiring with Frederico Nolasco da Silva to offer about HK$29 million worth of bribes to Ao Man-long in return for three contracts with the Macau government between January 2002 and December 2006.
The contracts, worth over HK$1 billion, were awarded to Companhia de Sistemas de Residuos Limitada (CSR), which had a joint venture agreement with Swire-Sita and also had Krieger as president and Tam as a director.
Hong Kong's District Court Judge Stephen Geiser said he had a 'heavy heart'' sentencing both Krieger and Tam, who did not commit the crime for financial gain and were to some extent 'victims'. 'They faced one of the most corrupted officials in the world, Ao Man-long. It was Ao who initiated the bribe and they were reluctant to pay at first and chose to ignore him,' the judge said.
'I accept Ao is the main villain.'
He said they gave in only after payments for existing contracts were delayed and progress of the new contracts held up, and amid fears that jobs of 500 employees were at risk.
However, the judge said their decision had damaged the name of Swire, not just in Hong Kong, but worldwide. And they had suffered a spectacular fall from grace after being charged by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
He said bribing officials was unacceptable in Hong Kong and it was essential that a level playing field be maintained.
The judge accepted that the pair were leading experts on environmental matters, particularly in Hong Kong; that there had been an undue delay between their arrest in 2009 and the start of their trial last December; and that they were of good character. Character references submitted to the court included a letter of support for Krieger from David Eldon, former HSBC chairman.
The judge adopted a starting point of four years' imprisonment each, reducing it by nine months for the delay in trial and their previously unblemished records.
He earlier said that he was accepting the evidence of a tainted prosecution witness, da Silva. He was also a former CSR director and after being tried in Macau, he is serving a six-year jail sentence for related offences in Portugal, from where he was transferred to Hong Kong to testify.
The judge said da Silva did not testify for revenge or reward, and his evidence was supported by testimony and documents.
The court heard that this amount, in HK dollars, due from the Macau government went unpaid and two contracts were withheld