• Fri
  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 4:48pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 March, 2013, 2:55am

Big fish always slip through legal net

An elderly woman and a young kid have been put behind bars for 10 years for laundering billions of dollars in two separate cases this year. Bravo! Our public prosecutors must be proud. A job well done. I have no doubt the two were guilty, but no one would seriously think they were anything other than small cogs in vast criminal schemes. In any case, it was suspected, but never shown, that all that money was dirty.

Sure, it's a lot of money, but both criminals received a pittance for their services. Under the Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance, it's enough to prove beyond resonable doubt that the suspect dealt in property while "knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe" it was the proceeds of an indictable offence. Nothing more. Easy job.

If I were a prosecutor, I would sleep much better at night if I were going after the real masterminds - the billionaires and powerful people on the mainland or at least the middlemen - by appealing to mainland authorities for help in furthering probes into vast laundering conspiracies. But our prosecutors and law enforcement investigators appear to be satisfied with just catching the minnows.

That's certainly the impression director of public prosecutions Kevin Zervos SC gave in a letter to the Post this week. He wrote: "It is important to bear in mind that anti-money-laundering provisions act as a disincentive to commit crime by disgorging the illicit profits from the criminals and their associates."

He also said that as an international financial centre, Hong Kong is especially vulnerable to the laundering of dirty money from drug trafficking, prostitution and fraud. I can't argue with that.

But this is what gets me. Are we to think the people behind those two vast laundering schemes - assuming they exist - will be deterred? I think not. Most likely, they are laughing at those poor sods now sitting behind bars, while looking for other fools to further their dirty deeds.

We see the same pattern with our courts and prosecutors in drug smuggling cases. Heavy sentences are regularly imposed on drug mules while the real culprits get away. I have no problem with police and prosecutors sending foolish criminals to jail, as long as they make greater effort to go after the real masterminds. But do they?


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This article is now closed to comments

Zervos can't go after the masterminds of these 2 specific crimes as the culprits are very likely senior govt officials in China given the amounts being laundered thru HK. The other aspect that makes it difficult for Zervos is the culprits were likely in conspiracy with prominent local politicians and business leaders. Prove me wrong, Zervos.
You can't assume the masterminds are from China. They can be from right here in Hong Kong.
"If I were a prosecutor, I would sleep much better at night if I were going after the real masterminds" Alex Lo "GOD BLESS YOU" for such a great article. masterminds and big mafia are share holders of govts no one can see them.Police/immigration/courts/ no one dare to catch real criminals but only the inocents being use by those elephants.esspecially in SAR now legal system is only to Abuse people rights,SAR citizens have to wait months and years to have their very legal rights.but these dpartmens with huge amont of sallaries every months and 7 star living facilities from tax payers money are not to protect inocents from this gangs and corrupt systems departments, "my prays and best wishes for SAR"
hard times !
Yeah, further dirty deeds/tricks should be discouraged at any price either be the money laundering or cyberattacks that take place here in Hong Kong.We Hongkongers value our status as an international financial centre.Besides, most of us embrace our core values: freedom of expression and speech---anyone can freely express himself or herself without being harassed by any dirty tricks (such as contiuous cyberattacks once their e-mail addresses are disclosed )even when they hold different views from any writers /news report in this Comment column or in this prestigious paper in the territory ! Right ? Maybe we shouldn't be too lenient/accommodative towards some nasty guys among us who just never acknowledge our core values !
As is always the case: those that are ignorant and cannot afford legal advise always get the harshest punishment. Real criminals get away.


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