Stanley Ho's STDM badly wanted land in Macau graft trial, court hears
Casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun's company STDM asked the government to directly sell it land near the Macau airport even after a bidding process was completed and the winner was decided, a court heard yesterday.
The land was sold to Moon Ocean, a company owned at the time by Hong Kong businessman Steven Lo Kit-sing and later bought out by tycoon Joseph Lau Luen-hung.
But Antonio Lourenco, former director of Macau's Infrastructure and Development Office, said STDM asked the government twice to directly sell it the land - first immediately after a consultancy company set an estimated price, and second after the tender concluded.
Lo, chairman of BMA Investment, and Lau, chairman of Chinese Estates, are accused of offering Macau's disgraced works chief Ao Man-long a HK$20 million bribe to secure the land. Each face one charge of bribery and one of money laundering.
The buyer of the land was decided by a closed bid in June 2005, in which Jones Lang LaSalle, representing Moon Ocean; CB Richard Ellis, and an STDM-Vigers joint venture were invited.
The companies had 10 days to prepare their proposals.
"Jones Lang LaSalle got it because it offered the highest price," Lourenco said, denying that Ao exerted any pressure on the decision. If the process were restarted because of STDM's request, "it would be very much against the law", he said.
Lourenco said STDM had been unhappy about the short period allowed to prepare the proposal. But Ao had decided 10 days would be enough because "all three companies are very professional", he said.
The court also heard evidence from Ao's former bodyguard Ho Pac-seng yesterday.
Ho said he saw Lo attending dinner appointments with Ao, but was unsure whether Lau was also there. Lo left early and was drunk at one of the appointments, he said.
The trial continues next week.