Former top Macau prosecutor faces lengthy jail term

Ho Chio-meng will hear verdict and sentence on 1,500 charges including initiating or founding a criminal syndicate, fraud, money laundering and abuse of power

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 July, 2017, 8:01am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 July, 2017, 8:01am

Macau’s former top prosecutor, Ho Chio-meng, who was charged with more than 1,500 offences, might face a maximum jail term of 30 years. His verdict and sentence will be revealed on Friday afternoon.

Ho, who was the city’s prosecutor general for 14 years and was once tipped as a possible chief executive, faced 1,536 charges, including initiating or founding a criminal syndicate, fraud, money laundering and abuse of power.

Between 2004 and 2014, he allegedly awarded some 2,000 public works contracts worth more than 167 million patacas to local businessmen.

Macau’s former chief prosecutor Ho Chio-meng fails in release bid after corruption arrest

The suspects involved – Ho and nine other individuals - were accused of pocketing at least 44 million patacas.

Ho denied the charges levelled against him.

The trial of the nine at the Court of First Instance ended on Wednesday. Their sentences will be announced on August 15.

Unlike the others, Ho’s trial was held in the Court of Final Appeal, which means he has no right to appeal after learning of his fate. The case triggered renewed calls for changes to the law that forces top officials to be judged by the Court of Final Appeal.

This is the second high-profile trial involving city’s officials after the 1999 handover. Former secretary for transport and public works Ao Man-long was sentenced to about 29 years in jail for 90 crimes, mostly related to corruption and money laundering.

During Ho’s trial, the court heard that he built a “secret room” on the same floor as the prosecutor’s office, which included massage equipment and a sauna.

It was also alleged that Ho had “encounters” with women in hotels in Macau and neighbouring Zhuhai paid for by the prosecutor’s office.

Ho was arrested on February 27 last year as he was about to take a ferry to Hong Kong. The trial began on December 9.

He was represented by two lawyers – Leong Weng-pun, who quit the case in March, saying the conditions were not right for him to do his work properly, and current lawyer Oriana Pun.

Ho became top prosecuter in 1999 and was replaced at the end of 2014, when chief executive Fernando Chui Sai-on announced a new team of top officials in a reshuffle that was considered a reaction to President Xi Jinping’s anti-graft campaign.