Tycoons facing inquiry in Macau
Hong Kong tycoons Joseph Lau Luen-hung and Steven Lo Kit-sing - named on Monday in a high-profile corruption case in Macau - are involved in another investigation in the city, a court revealed yesterday. It named Lo as a suspect in the case.
The revelation came on the third day of the latest corruption case involving former secretary for transport and public works Ao Man-long, who was jailed for 281/2 years in 2009.
Lo is appearing as a witness in the case in the Macau Court of Final Appeal before Judge Sam Hou-fai.
Lau was also expected to give testimony in the case, but the prosecution decided not to summon him 'because he is involved in another case', without giving further details.
It was understood that no formal charges have been laid against either tycoon so far.
A preliminary hearing will be held to decide whether the authorities will press charges.
The Macau court would not reveal details about the other case, but Lo said outside court that 'it's about the same thing [as today's hearing]'.
Ao is accused of having received at least HK$20 million and 7.3 million patacas of bribes in six government projects as he faces six fresh counts of taking bribes and three counts of money laundering. One of the projects was the tendering of five plots of land opposite Macau airport, in which Ao was said to have received the HK$20 million bribe.
The bid was won by international property consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle. It was submitted on behalf of Moon Ocean, a Macau firm now owned by Lau.
The court heard yesterday that Moon Ocean was fully owned by Lo when the 1.37 billion patacas bid was submitted in June 2005. It was later sold to Lau for HK$1.6 billion.
Lo confirmed in court that Lau's Chinese Estates had deposited HK$20 million into the account of another company owned by Lo, Eastern Base.
Lo said he was borrowing from Lau for the project's expenses at that time, and the HK$20 million was part of the HK$700 million to HK$800 million loan.
Lo said he was 'very keen' to develop the land, while Lau was not as active, although Chinese Estates carried out site research soon after it knew of the possible tender.
He said the HK$20 million was to pay a construction company owned by Ho Meng-fai, now a fugitive, for work on the five plots of land.
But Ho told him to pay his supplier Ecoline directly. Ecoline is thought to have been controlled by Ao.
Lo denied the money was a bribe and said it was only a 'preliminary payment' to Ho's company. Lo said he had met Ao in Macau once or twice at Ho's invitation.
The court also heard that Lau and Lo knew of the government's plan to sell the plots of land as early as late 2004 through Jones Lang LaSalle's agent Tony Lo Hing-hung, although the three companies - Jones Lang LaSalle, CB Richard Ellis and STDM-Vigers joint venture - were only formally informed of the tender 10 days before the deadline on June 28.
The hearing will continue on Monday. A spokesman for Chinese Estates could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The sum, in Hong Kong dollars, alleged to have been paid to Ao Man-long as a bribe over the tendering for land near Macau airport