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Macau

Bags of cash, flight attendant encounters and a hidden sauna: Macau court hears of secret life in Ho Chio-meng trial

Former prosecutor general has been sentenced to 21 years in jail for crimes including money laundering and fraud

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 July, 2017, 6:40pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 July, 2017, 7:09pm

Macau’s former top prosecutor Ho Chio-meng, once regarded as the city’s potential leader, made headlines in the local press after his arrest in February last year. His case put him at the centre of a barrage of revelations that shook the former Portuguese enclave.

On Friday, Ho was sentenced to 21 years in jail for crimes including fraud and money laundering, as well as initiating or founding a criminal syndicate.

Here are some accounts the court has heard throughout the high-profile trial:

• Ho was accused of using taxpayers’ money on a “resting room”, supposedly for foreign guests. But behind a fake wall, there was a suite with a ping-pong table, a pool table, massage equipment, sauna, mattresses and valuable furniture.

• Ho was allegedly involved in moving decorative items seized by customs to his private premises.

• A villa in Cheoc Van, Coloane, was rented between 2006 and 2014 by the prosecutor’s office, according to Ho, to receive guests. But the prosecution said that it was for Ho’s personal use. The rent cost 5.1 million patacas in public money.

• The former prosecutor’s driver Mak Hak Neng said in court he had transported bags of cash – from 100 to 300,000 patacas each time – to the neighbouring city of Zhuhai. The money was deposited in an individual bank account under Ho’s name.

• The prosecution said Ho had encounters with women, some of them flight attendants, in hotels in Macau and Zhuhai at the expense of the prosecutor's office. This happened at least 76 times, the court heard.

• Ho was also accused of teaming up with relatives to create 10 shell companies to secure contracts worth millions of patacas from the prosecutor’s office, which would then be outsourced.

• The court heard that Ho hired a woman from the mainland, Wang Xiandi, considered by the prosecution to be an “intimate friend” of the former top prosecutor. The prosecution raised questions about Wang’s hiring as an “expert” and then as a “mediator”. Ho said that part of her role was to be an “informant” in cases involving big casinos and mainland Chinese political leaders. Ho and Wang spent two nights in 2009 in a luxury hotel in Dubai with expenses – more than 123,000 patacas – paid by the prosecutor’s office.

• In 2005, Ho took four relatives, including his wife, on trips to Holland, Germany and various northern European countries. The former prosecutor, who was attending an international summit, allegedly spent 590,000 patacas on trip expenses. Ho claimed that he had verbally informed former chief executive Edmund Ho.