More charges face Reid if immunity lost

CORRUPT former government lawyer Warwick Reid may find himself facing further charges if he loses his immunity from prosecution as a result of his testimony at the trial of Kevin Egan.

Sources said lawyers would be studying Reid's evidence against Egan and comparing it with his earlier statements and evidence in previous trials to see if Reid had breached the terms of his immunity.

He was given immunity from prosecution in relation to his admitted acceptance of bribes worth more than $12 million and for possessing a gun, ammunition and a forged passport provided that he admit all his crimes and give full and truthful evidence in trials as and when required.

Reid, who is serving an eight-year sentence for having assets beyond his official earnings, gave evidence against Egan which varied drastically from his earlier sworn evidence.

A decision is expected soon.

Three lawyers and a businessman are in jail after Reid testified he accepted bribes from three of them, and the third helped him flee Hongkong to the Philippines.

Barrister Eddie Soh Chee-kong and solicitor Oscar Lai Ka-to and their client, businessman Lee Hoi-kwong, are serving seven-year jail sentences for bribing Reid. Solicitor Alick Au is serving a four-year jail term for his part in assisting Reid to leave Hongkong.

Sources said Reid was unlikely to get the three-year discount recommended in an unprecedented move by the Chief Justice when passing sentence of eight years.

Reid has managed to pick quarrels with everyone dealing with him. He has accused the Attorney-General of acting dishonourably, indecisively and incompetently, reneging on promises made to him and other top officials of the ICAC, and of lying and taking part in a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

He has also not paid any of the $12.4 million corrupt funds he gained, as ordered by the Chief Justice. Reid claims to have offered $5 million or $6 million to settle the matter, but nothing has been repaid, and whatever is left of the corrupt money appears to be in Taiwan.

This, too, has left many people feeling Reid will be able to enjoy the fruits of his corruption after just three years and four months in jail.

While the decision on whether to grant the discount is a matter for the Governor, Mr Chris Patten, he will take advice from the ICAC and the Legal Department. Sources said Mr Patten's predecessor, Lord Wilson, would not have given him the discount. Reid would be released in July if the discount were allowed.

Reid, who has served all his sentence to date in ICAC custody, because he fears for his safety, may find himself in Correctional Services custody soon.

Although he is due to testify in one more trial against Soh in connection with Reid's flight, sources said it was unlikely the case would come to trial.

Reid may then be moved from the ICAC headquarters, where he is in practically solitary confinement, to prison.

Reid's change of evidence may also have some bearing on Alick Au's appeal, as Reid's credibility was a major factor in the case and he gave different evidence in Au's trial to Egan's.

The grounds of appeal in both Au's case and the corruption case have yet to be finished, so no date has been set for either appeal.