Steven Lo faces expulsion from HKFA, Jockey Club if appeal against conviction fails

Businessman declares his innocence in Macau corruption case; both he and Joseph Lau file appeals against their conviction and jail sentence

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 March, 2014, 1:44pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 March, 2014, 2:39am

High-profile businessman Steven Lo Kit-sing faces expulsion from the city's Football Association (HKFA) and Jockey Club if he fails to win an appeal against his jail term for corruption and money laundering in Macau.

The chairman of entertainment company BMA Investment protested his innocence yesterday. "I want to reiterate that I have not done the illegal acts stated in the judgment," he read from a written statement without answering any questions.

Lo and developer Joseph Lau Luen-hung, ex-chairman of Chinese Estates, filed appeals with the Macau courts after they were each given a jail term of five years and three months on Friday. They were found guilty of paying a HK$20 million bribe to Macau's disgraced public works minister Ao Man-long in 2005 to secure land near the airport for a luxury residential project, La Scala.

Watch: Steven Lo meets the press

Lo said yesterday: "Former public works chief Ao Man-long never used his power to influence the result of the land auction."

Lo is one of two vice- chairmen on the HKFA board of directors. According to the association, any director guilty of criminal charges would be disqualified.

A source close to the board said it was not taking any action for the time being as Lo had lodged an appeal.

"He is still innocent at this stage," the source said. "But the board should discuss the matter sooner rather than later, because it is affecting the reputation of Hong Kong soccer."

HKFA chief executive Mark Sutcliffe said he had just returned from holiday and preferred not to comment "until I have reviewed all of the news and spoken to the directors".

Lo is also convenor of First Division side South China and the club's parent body, South China Athletic Association. The association's chairman, Duffy Wong Chun-nam, said: "We will discuss [Lo's position in the club] as soon as possible."

The Jockey Club declined to comment until Lo's appeal options were exhausted or abandoned.

However, a senior club official said the rules were "fairly straightforward" in that anyone with a criminal conviction could not be a member, and that only members were eligible to hold an owner's permit.

Neither Lo nor Lau were in Macau when Judge Augusto Silvestre delivered the verdict and sentence. Since Hong Kong and Macau have not signed an extradition agreement, they will not be jailed as long as they do not enter the former Portuguese enclave within the 15-year period that their penalties will be in force.

"The validity period is different for different cases, depending on the severity [of the crime]," University of Macau law professor Lok Wai-kin said.

Lo and Lau had two channels of appeal, first to the Court of Second Instance and, if that failed, to the Court of Final Appeal, Lok said.

On Friday, Judge Silvestre said Lau "has always had control of Moon Ocean", a company that won the bidding for the five plots of land near the airport.

It appeared to contradict statements issued by Chinese Estates in 2005 and 2011, when a subsidiary of the company bought shares of Moon Ocean. The statements said the "ultimate beneficial owner" was an independent third party of Moon Ocean.

The Securities and Futures Commission has the authority to check whether Chinese Estates has given false statements. It is understood the commission has not initiated an investigation.