Crown opposes bid by Chius to win stay

THE Crown yesterday opposed a bid by former Far East Bank chairman Deacon Chiu Te-ken and his son, David Chiu Tat-cheong, for a stay of criminal proceedings, arguing a stay was an extraordinary remedy which should only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

Senior Assistant Crown Prosecutor Mr Joseph Pethes said the length of investigation periods was unpredictable, depending on the nature of the alleged offence, and a complex case justified a longer delay.

Deacon Chiu, 66, and David Chiu, 37, are seeking a permanent stay on the grounds of abuse of process, delay and the Bill of Rights.

Deacon Chiu also says he is suffering from dementia and unable to conduct his defence.

They face a total of 14 charges including conspiracy to falsify bank documents, conspiracy to furnish false information and conspiracy to defraud relating to loans totalling $352.5 million.

Opening the Crown's case before Mr Justice Leonard in the High Court, Mr Pethes said the court would be asked whether the delay in the case would lead to an unfair trial.

He said the Bill of Rights provided for the right to a fair trial and for an accused to be tried without undue delay.

In Deacon Chiu's case, the clock started to tick when he was arrested in October 1988 and in David Chiu's case, in February 1989, Mr Pethes said, quoting a case which stated that pre-charge delays could not justify a stay.

He said no blame should be attached to the Crown after January 1990 when the defence made various applications which took the case to the High Court, the Court of Appeal, the Privy Council and back to the lower court.

While the defendants were entitled to take bona fide actions, the time spent must be deducted and taken into account in assessing whether the overall delay was reasonable, Mr Pethes said.

David Chiu, manager of the Far East Consortium, gave evidence in support of his application, saying he was aware of negotiations between his family and the Banking Commission in 1985 about a package to liquidate the loans in question.

Examined by his counsel, Mr Jonathan Caplan QC, he said he initially opposed the proposal but was later persuaded to accept it.

It was his understanding that if his family co-operated, everything would be fine, otherwise they might have to close the bank.

He did not expect further trouble if the money was paid and he never thought he would be prosecuted for a criminal offence once his family had settled the problem loans, he said.

He said the then acting Governor, Sir David Akers-Jones, the Financial Secretary and the Banking Commissioner had all given him and his family assurances everything would be fine.

After IBI Asia became the major shareholder of the bank, he said, the bank lost $300 to $400 million during the 1987 stock market crash and his family had put in about $40 million to cover part of the loss.

When the ICAC searched the offices of his family in May 1988, he thought it was about IBI's bad loans arising from the crash and nothing to do with previous advances, David Chiu said.

The hearing continues.