Chiu's answers clear - reporter

A MAGAZINE reporter who had two telephone conversations with former Far East Bank chairman Deacon Chiu Te-ken said she found he had no difficulty in understanding her questions.

Chiu has claimed he is suffering from dementia.

Ms Chan Sik-chee of Next magazine, who talked with Deacon Chiu and then published an article about him on September 4, last year, said she found most of the answers he gave in the course of the interview satisfactory.

She was called as a witness for the Crown, which is opposing an application by Deacon Chiu, 66, and his son, David Chiu Tat-cheong, 37, for a permanent stay of proceedings against them.

They are charged with a total of 14 offences, including conspiracy to falsify documents of the Far East Bank and conspiracy to defraud the Commissioner of Banking in relation to loans totalling $325.5 million.

They contend that the case against them should be stopped on the grounds of abuse of process and the Bill of Rights.

While they both argued that they would not have a fair trial because of the substantial delay, Deacon Chiu also claimed that he was medically unfit to conduct his defence.

Examined by Senior Assistant Crown Prosecutor Mr Joseph Pethes, Ms Chan confirmed that she learned about a proposal to demolish part of the Lai Chi Kok Amusement Park to make way for public housing.

As a result, she contacted its owner, Deacon Chiu, who agreed to a telephone interview which took place on August 29.

In the course of the interview, Deacon Chiu had no difficulty in understanding her and most of his answers were satisfactory, she said.

Ms Chan will continue her evidence on Monday.

Earlier, concluding his opening, Mr Pethes quoted authorities as stating that even if the loss of memory was genuine, it did not necessarily render an accused insane so he could not be tried.

The court would have to consider whether he had sufficient intellect to comprehend the course of the proceedings so he could give proper instruction to conduct his defence, he said.

Counsel noted that David Chiu's contention was that he was under the impression that if the Chiu family paid all the loans, it would be the end of the matter.

But the Crown said there was no evidence of any promises from the Commissioner of Banking to either Deacon Chiu or David Chiu that there would be no investigation or recommendation of any charges, Mr Pethes said.

There was never any intention on the part of the commissioner that the matter would not be referred to the Attorney-General.