Lurid testimony undermines triad chief's battle to stay in Canada
Immigration hearing hears Lai Tong Sang ordered murder of Macau's 'Broken Tooth'
Triad leader Lai Tong Sang faces an uphill battle to retain Canadian residency after three days of incriminating testimony at an immigration hearing this week.
It included claims that he ordered the murder of arch-rival "Broken Tooth" Wan Kuok-koi and a top lieutenant.
Immigration officer Jean-Paul Delisle told the hearing in Vancouver that Macau police had told him in 1997 that Lai ordered the killings. The order to kill Wan was not carried out but the hit against senior 14K gangster Shek Wing-cheong was, on May 4, 1997.
Shek and two underlings died when their moving car was surrounded by men on mopeds who riddled it with bullets in broad daylight.
The killing of Shek, a corrupt former Hong Kong policeman and Wan's bodyguard, triggered a dramatic escalation in the 1996-1998 war between Wan's 14K triad and the Wo On Lok gang, said to have been headed by Lai, as they battled for control of the casino junket market.
Wan was released from prison in December after nearly 14 years behind bars.
Delisle's testimony at the deportation hearing is believed to be the first sworn account of Lai's alleged involvement in Shek's killing.
Delisle, the Canadian visa officer in Hong Kong who handled Lai's initial application for permanent Canadian residency in 1994, referred to Shek by his nom de guerre, "Man Cheong".
Delisle was challenged by Lai's lawyer, Peter Chapman, that he was "overstating" the account Macau police had provided of his client's involvement in ordering the killings.
"I do stand by the comment I made about Lai Tong Sang personally ordering the contract," Delisle said, according to the Canadian Press. Delisle said Lai also ordered the murder of another 14K gangster whose identity was not clear.
The immigration review also heard testimony from gang expert Detective James Fisher that the triads were a "blight on society". On Tuesday, the hearing heard from Superintendent Patrick Fogarty, who headed a Canadian wiretapping operation that revealed how Wan's 14K plotted to kill Lai in Vancouver.
The Canadian government is seeking to have Lai's permanent residency revoked on the grounds that he had concealed his membership of a criminal organisation. It is seeking to have his wife, and adult son and two daughters, expelled on the grounds that they had achieved permanent residency on the basis of misrepresentation.
A ruling by immigration board member Geoff Rempel is not expected until July.
Delisle said he handled Lai's initial application for Canadian residency via the Hong Kong consulate under a foreign investment scheme.
Lai withdrew the application amid Delisle's suspicion that he was a triad.
But two years later Lai successfully reapplied through the Los Angeles consulate.
Delisle, who had special responsibility in Hong Kong for dealing with the visa applications of suspected triads, was not informed, and Lai and his family assumed Canadian residency in October 1996.
The blunder was soon revealed in dramatic fashion, when gunmen sprayed Lai's luxury Vancouver home with bullets in July 1997.
Delisle testified that he quickly faxed his bosses an affidavit describing a Macau police unit's account of Lai's involvement in ordering contract killings.
According to the news agency Canadian Press, Delisle said had he been asked by the Los Angeles consulate, he would have told them they were dealing with "a major triad head". It was not clear why it took 16 years for the case to reach a hearing.
Lai, who has not been photographed in public for 15 years, was granted permission join in the hearing via teleconference from Macau, where he is understood to divide his time.