Hong Kong and Macau authorities are considering whether proposed laws that would require each city to surrender fugitives wanted by the other should apply retroactively, Hong Kong's justice minister said yesterday.
Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung - speaking after meeting Macau's secretary for administration and justice, Florinda da Rosa Silva Chan, in the former Portuguese enclave - said the negotiations were at a "mature stage".
His remark prompted questions about whether the Hong Kong law would require the surrender of convicted tycoons Joseph Lau Luen-hung and Steven Lo Kit-sing to Macau authorities.
The pair have remained in Hong Kong after being convicted in absentia on corruption charges and sentenced to more than five years in jail each.
Without naming individuals, Yuen said: "In terms of the retroactive period, it forms a part of the arrangement. There will be an express provision on when the law takes effect and how past cases should be handled."
He would not say when the negotiations could be finalised, but he added: "I could say there is quite good progress."
Chan said detailed provisions had been presented and experts from both cities were negotiating on "revising and refining" the wording.
Lau, former chairman of developer Chinese Estates Holdings, and Lo, chairman of entertainment company BMA Investment, were convicted in March of corruption and money laundering after they were found to have paid a HK$20 million bribe to Macau's disgraced ex-public-works chief Ao Man-long, who was jailed for 29 years in May 2012.
The pair, each sentenced to five years and three months in jail in Macau, have appealed against their convictions. The absence of a fugitive transfer agreement between the jurisdictions means Lau and Lo have avoided spending time in jail by steering clear of the city an hour's ferry ride away.