Stephen Lo Kit-sing denies link to disgraced Macau official at graft trial

Investigators defend lack of proof of direct link between mogul and ex-Macau chief

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 October, 2013, 4:32am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 October, 2013, 4:32am

The corruption trial of Hong Kong businessmen Steven Lo Kit-sing and Joseph Lau Luen-hung resumed yesterday, with Lo's lawyers asserting that Macau's anti-graft agency did not have evidence to prove a direct connection between Lo and Macau's disgraced public works chief Ao Man-long.

Lo, chairman of BMA Investment, and Lau, chairman of Chinese Estates, are accused of offering Ao a HK$20 million bribe in 2005 to secure five plots of land near to Macau's airport for the La Scala luxury residential development. Ao was jailed for 29 years in May last year.

Investigators from Macau's Commission Against Corruption, including Io Fu-chun who testified yesterday, have tried to establish a connection between Lo and Ao mainly through phone and immigration records and restaurant receipts.

Io told the court that Lo had made numerous "indirect calls" to Ao before and after 2005. Phone records have shown that Ao had called Macau businessman Ho Meng-fai, who then immediately phoned Lo, suggesting that Ao and Lo got in touch through middleman Ho.

But Lo's lawyer, Jorge Neto Valente, challenged the use of these phone records to establish a tie between Lo and Ao.

"You always say it was done indirectly, but how is that evidence? We don't need anything indirect, we need evidence," Valente said.

Io also said the name of a Macau restaurant was found in Ao's notebook with the surname "Lo" written next to it. According to immigration records, Lo and his assistant entered Macau several times together. There were several receipts signed by Lo's assistant in the restaurant. Io said this was evidence that Ao had had dinner with Lo in that restaurant.

"Why would 'Lo' necessarily mean Lo Kit-sing? This is not an uncommon surname," said Valente in response.

Valente also told the court that Lo had businesses in Macau, suggesting it was not unusual for him to visit the territory.