When Warwick Reid was released from Siu Lam maximum security prison on November 29, 1994, he had one chore to complete before boarding the flight back to his native New Zealand. Reid stepped from the Blackhawk helicopter which had ferried him from jail and telephoned Singapore - setting himself up to collect a multi-million-dollar corruption payoff. It was an early link in a chain of deceit unveiled at Tauranga District Court yesterday. Prosecutors told the court the plan was hatched after Malaysian businessman Ch'ng Poh was convicted of a HK$127 million fraud in July 1994 and sentenced to four years' jail. Soon after the judgment, Ch'ng's lawyers visited Reid in prison and said they were investigating suggestions prime Crown witness and former Ka Wah Bank director Low Chang-hian had 'offered up' Ch'ng as part of a deal. They left documents from Ch'ng's trial with Reid. Within weeks, the court heard, Reid had an affidavit ready. It claimed Low, 50, had confided in Reid when they served time together, telling him he had planned the evidence of other witnesses in the Ch'ng case. But Reid withheld his signature, saying he would sign the affidavit only after he had been paid. From Hong Kong airport, as he awaited his deportation flight, Reid began to put the plan into action. He phoned Low in Singapore and told him he had to see him urgently - unaware that Low's tips to the ICAC would later bring the scheme crashing down. On November 29, the former lawyer landed in New Zealand to the warm embraces of his wife and children, and the clamorous attentions of journalists. But one other passenger touched down in Tauranga that day: a businessman from Asia. The following day, the businessman and Reid met. The businessman promised to pay NZ$1 million (HK$5.3 million) of Mrs Ch'ng's money if Reid would sign the affidavit. A day later - as Reid held court in his garden and told journalists of his new-found faith in God - the businessman was opening a NZ$1 million bank account in the small coastal town. On December 2 - three days after his release from prison - Reid signed the affidavit and his accountant received two cheques totalling NZ$1 million as a 'gift' to the Reid family. On December 5, Reid's accountant set up the Grange Trust in Vanuatu, with the Reid family as beneficiaries. Reid's home was in Grange Road, Tauranga. On December 12, Reid flew to Singapore and met Low, telling him he would be 'compensated' if he allowed the affidavit to ride without rebuttal. The next day, the Asian businessman arrived in Singapore to meet the pair. In a bathroom, Reid urged Low to ask for HK$30 million in return for his silence. On December 14, Low and Reid flew to Taipei to tell Low's brother of the offer. But a week later, the Asian businessman arrived in Singapore with bad news: Ch'ng wanted the deal but was unable to afford HK$30 million. Despite the lack of an agreement, Reid's affidavit was filed with the Hong Kong Court of Appeal on December 29, a month after his deportation. On January 3, 1995, Ch'ng filed an appeal, citing Reid's affidavit as further evidence. Ten days later, he applied for bail and was out of jail by February 10. Meanwhile, almost NZ$1 million was being transferred from the Grange Trust in Vanuatu to the Grange Trust in Tauranga, where it would quietly accrue interest for another year. In May 1995, Low in Singapore learned Reid was trying to reach him by phone, and called in the ICAC to monitor his calls. Reid phoned from New Zealand throughout 1995, assuring Low he would not return to Hong Kong to testify until Ch'ng had paid for Low's silence. But 1996 brought bad news for the Ch'ng camp. On January 15, the court refused Ch'ng's appeal and rejected Reid's evidence. Ch'ng was back behind bars for the rest of his four-year sentence. Thousands of dollars from the Grange Trust immediately began moving into other accounts in Tauranga. More than NZ$600,000 was used to buy the Bay Bodyfit gym, where Reid became manager, and to buy an upmarket house, which became the Reid family home. By May 19, two days before Reid's arrest, NZ$379,000 remained in the trust fund account. Reid has pleaded guilty to accepting the cash to pervert the course of justice, but is expected to challenge some aspects of the evidence.