The District Court yesterday adjourned a fraud trial after the defendants sought time to verify reports that a senior prosecuting officer linked to the case was assisting in police investigations of the handling of evidence in the case.
The Department of Justice confirmed on June 10 that staff of the department had assisted police in an investigation on June 7. The probe focuses on how files were handled in the fraud case and 'suggestions of improper influence', a source close to the matter said.
Newspapers reported on Shiu's involvement over the weekend. It is understood that Shiu's secretary was also interviewed along with other department staff.
No one from the justice department has been arrested, but police seized computer material.
A lawyer for one of five defendants in the fraud trial, who are charged with dishonestly applying for lines of credit worth HK$33 million from various banks between 2001 and 2002, said their camp wished to verify if the reports were true.
'The press have reported some developments and we want to know whether it's true,' said Eric Kwok, counsel for defendant Kelly Cheng Kit-yin, 57, the former vice-chairwoman of Hong Kong-listed Yueshou Environmental Holdings.
The trial, which opened yesterday, was adjourned until tomorrow by District Judge Douglas Yau Tak-hong.
Cheng and her 37-year-old daughter Carmen Cheng-Wei-ming, along with three directors of the company, have been charged with 11 counts of conspiracy to defraud and two counts of dealing with the proceeds of an indictable offence.
The defendants have pleaded not guilty.
Daniel Marash SC, for the prosecution, said that during the adjournment, prosecutors could provide information to the defendants so they could decide on their next step.
According to the allegations in the criminal case, applications for letters of credit were made to five banks: Bank of China, DBS Kwong On Bank (now DBS Bank), The Kwangtung Provincial Bank (now under Bank of China), The Hongkong Chinese Bank (now Citic Ka Wah Bank) and Standard Chartered.
Carmen Cheng and another defendant, Ip Kin-man, are accused of laundering HK$28 million that had been deposited into a bank account.