Sally Aw 'was director of firm used in scam'

Press tycoon Sally Aw Sian was named in court yesterday as one of the directors of a shelf company said to have been used by the Hong Kong Standard in an alleged circulation scam to boost sales figures.

Ms Aw, chairwoman of Sing Tao Holdings, has been named as a co-conspirator in the alleged fraud plot with three Hong Kong Standard executives but has not been charged.

A company called Mornstar is said to have been used to buy overprinted Hong Kong Standard and Sunday Standard copies to increase sales figures.

A court heard yesterday Ms Aw and Lawrence Wong Yue-kai, both directors of the Hong Kong Standard, had appeared as Mornstar directors on documents relating to the purchase of the shelf company in early 1994.

But their names were later replaced by two employees of the paper, the District Court heard.

A statement made by accountant Lit Kam-leung and read in court said he had told the Independent Commission Against Corruption that his friend, Mr Wong, had asked him to buy a company for him in October 1993.

Mr Lit said he had sold Mornstar to Mr Wong for $4,000 after buying it from Joinbest Registration for $3,500.

Joinbest director Raymond Chan Hong-leung said in a statement to the ICAC read in court that Ms Aw and Mr Wong were named as directors of Mornstar.

General manager Henrietta So Shuk-wa, 35, finance manager Tang Cheong-shing, 49, and former circulation director David Wong Wai-shing, 45, deny the fraud charge.

Former clerk Kammy Chung Kim-kam admitted making invoices for Mornstar based on memos issued by David Wong, the court heard.

The memos were sent to Tang and copies given to So or Jim Marett, Hong Kong Standard Group general manager, she said.

It was revealed the memos listed the services, such as consultancy, Mornstar was said to have provided for the Standard, along with the relevant fees.

Ms Chung said she was also responsible for making payments owed by Mornstar to the Standard.

Accountant Clara Yau Choi-fung testified that sales of newspapers accounted for only 10 per cent of Hong Kong Standard revenue.

So and Tang also deny six charges of false accounting and David Wong four. The trial continues tomorrow.