Lew Mon-hung says 'officer of the state' meddled in his trial

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 November, 2013, 2:53pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 November, 2013, 6:45am

An "officer of the state" intervened in the trial of businessman Lew Mon-hung on a charge of perverting public justice and in his application to have the trial halted, a court has heard.

The matter of "extreme sensitivity" was brought to the attention of Chief District Judge Poon Siu-tung before he refused Lew's earlier application for a permanent stay of trial yesterday.

Defence lawyer Graham Harris SC said: "It concerns intervention [...] by an officer of the state." The defence team refused go into further detail about the incident.

Asked by the judge why the matter was not disclosed until yesterday, Harris said: "It is of such significance that the defendant may have taken the view that [...] it may attract fire." Lew, former deputy chairman and executive director of Pearl Oriental Oil, is accused of sending two e-mails and a letter to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Simon Peh Yun-lu, in an attempt to get them to halt an ICAC investigation. He denies wrongdoing.

Refusing Lew's stay request, Poon said the defence did not have substantive grounds to justify the application.

"The delay of the reporting by the CE; [Leung's] reporting to the commissioner rather than the police; the alleged leak of the e-mails to the press; … [the fact that] no statements were taken with high-ranking officials, are in my view utterly insufficient for drawing any inference of impropriety," Poon said.

Last week, the defence said former executive councillor Barry Cheung Chun-yuen leaked threatening e-mails and a letter, allegedly from Lew, to the press.

Harris said the defence might consider a second stay application due to the "intervention". Poon did grant Lew's request to adjourn his perversion of justice trial until the Court of First Instance had dealt with the Pearl Oriental Oil fraud trial. No trial dates have been fixed yet.

Meanwhile, the fraud case saw new progress yesterday, with Pearl Oriental Oil chairman Wong Kwan being hit with an additional charge of deceiving a Taiwanese businessman in a securities deal. The charge alleges that Wong sold 560 million Pearl Oriental Innovation shares to businessman Ma Yueng-lin with intent to defraud from May 2011 to November last year.

Ma is a famous entrepreneur in the mainland and Taiwan. His family owns and operates Yuanta Financial Holding.