At least two senior government officials may testify against former development minister Mak Chai-kwong and assistant highways director Tsang King-man over alleged cheating of government housing allowances.
Mak, 62, and Tsang, 57, entered no plea in Eastern Court yesterday. They face a joint charge of conspiracy to defraud the government of HK$700,000 in the 1980s.
Mak also faces two counts, and Tsang three, of using documents with intent to deceive the government.
Their case will be transferred to the District Court on November 6.
The prosecution has listed 45 witnesses, according to court documents.
These include Lui Kin-fun, a principal assistant secretary of the Civil Service Bureau, and Law Fung-ping, an assistant commissioner of the Transport Department. Law took a master's degree course with Mak and Tsang.
Other public servants include Lam Kuen, an assistant secretary (information technology) of the Development Bureau; Yim Tak-yiu, a senior engineer at the Highways Department, and a clerk at the Transport Department.
Personnel from law firm Ong & Chung, understood to have been involved in the purchase and sale of two flats in question, make up most of the witnesses. Tsang's sister and her husband, some University of Hong Kong staff and a Chinese University professor were also interviewed by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Mak and Tsang's wives, who were arrested but not charged, were not listed as witnesses.
ICAC officers have taken statements from the witnesses but it is not known who will testify at the trial.
Among barristers identified by Mak's legal team is senior counsel Eric Kwok Tung-ming.
Kwok, with 27 years' experience, was senior counsel in the prosecution of former TVB general manager Stephen Chan Chi-wan, who was eventually cleared of graft charges.
It was understood that the ICAC has not decided whether to source a lawyer in private practice to act as prosecutor. Both defendants had their bails extended to HK$50,000 each.
It is alleged that Mak and Tsang bought flats in the same block at City Garden, North Point, then rented each other's homes and claimed a government housing allowance on the lease, a practice known as cross-leasing.
Graft-busters arrested the two couples on July 12, just 12 days after Mak took office in C.Y. Leung's administration. He resigned that day, but Tsang remains assistant highways director.
Mak, a civil servant for 37 years before his retirement in 2010, was succeeded by Paul Chan Mo-po, who is being investigated for possible drink-driving and disobeying road markings.