Hong Kong Standard bosses were worried that an alleged circulation scam would be exposed in the media, but did not fear any ICAC investigation, a court heard yesterday. David Wong Wai-shing, accused of plotting with press tycoon Sally Aw Sian to defraud advertisers, said the company feared public humiliation. 'What was of main concern was the media,' he said in a videotaped interview with the ICAC played in the District Court yesterday. 'The ICAC was not taken into consideration. 'It was mainly that the senior management of the company was very afraid . . . that there would be somebody [who] knew about this matter and would expose it to the media.' The prosecution has said circulation figures for the Hong Kong Standard and Sunday Standard were inflated to deceive advertisers. 'If the media realised that the Hong Kong Standard had such a practice, if that was leaked, it would certainly cause great influence over the reputation of the company,' Wong, 45, told the Independent Commission Against Corruption on June 4 last year. Former circulation director Wong, general manager Henrietta So Shuk-wa, 35, and finance manager Tang Cheong-shing, 49, are accused of conspiracy to defraud. All deny the charge. Wong told the ICAC that a company, Mornstar, was set up to 'absorb large quantities of newspapers', the court heard. The scheme was the company's 'top secret', and Ms Aw wanted the project kept in-house because involving outsiders would risk exposure, Wong said on the tape. 'That way, the figures would not be so easily disclosed to others,' he said. 'This is the top secret of the company after all. As few people know about that as possible.' When asked by the ICAC whether the company had misled the Audit Bureau of Circulations by submitting false sales figures, Wong said: 'From our company's point of view, it's just a commercial practice.' Ms Aw, chairwoman of Sing Tao Holdings, has been named as a co-conspirator but has not been charged. Barrister Nicholas Adams, for Wong, said his client's statements to the ICAC were inadmissible as evidence because of the way they were obtained. Wong told the ICAC that senior Standard staff, including So, were behind the decision to establish Mornstar. The court heard that before he resigned from the Standard in December 1996, Wong suggested to So and Tang that Mornstar be shut down. So had agreed with him, saying the company's reputation was at risk. Prosecutor Michael Lunn SC has said Mornstar ceased operations in December 1996 and its work was taken over by three distributors until May last year. So and Tang also deny six charges of false accounting while Wong denies four. The trial continues before Judge Peter Line today.