Former Akai Holdings chairman James Ting, facing a retrial in relation to the collapse of the company, has failed in a bid to keep testimony from a civil action out of the hands of criminal prosecutors in Hong Kong.
Mr Ting, who will appear before the Court of Final Appeal later this month in an effort to avoid a retrial on two charges of false accounting, was attempting to block an order by Master Brian de Souza granting prosecutors limited access to the testimony in relation to the liquidation of Akai seven years ago.
Akai, owned by Mr Ting's Semi-Tech Group, went bankrupt in 2000 owing about HK$8 billion.
Mr Ting was released by the Court of Appeal in September last year from a six-year prison term for false accounting and ordered to be retried. The court ruled that the jury in Ting's case had been misdirected by trial judge Clare-Marie Beeson.
Clive Grossman SC, for Mr Ting, said the application to examine the testimony amounted to a 'fishing expedition' by prosecutors who were hoping it might turn up something that could be used to file additional charges against his client.
Mr Grossman said the liquidators had not notified prosecutors or police about anything from the hearings, something they were bound to do if criminality was discovered.
But Nicholas Gall, solicitor for the liquidators, RSM Nelson Wheeler, told the court that the fact that his client had not reported anything did not mean there wasn't anything to find.
'They're not criminal lawyers, they are not the Department of Justice or the police,' Mr Gall said. 'Whatever the [DoJ or police] are looking for, we don't know. But we have always said it is within the discretion of the court to allow them to look at [the testimony].'
Senior assistant director of public prosecutions Richard Turnbull agreed, saying that this latest appeal was just another episode what he described as 'a history of attempts to thwart investigations on the civil and criminal sides'.
Court of Appeal vice-president Anthony Rogers agreed.
He noted that Master de Souza commented after hearing the testimony from Mr Ting that there was 'more than a whiff' of criminality about the circumstances leading to the company's downfall.
There are several civil matters currently being pursued in various jurisdictions around the world in relation to Akai.