Two alleged treasure hunters accused of illegally trying to get their hands on former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos' fortune went free yesterday after a judge said there was not enough evidence to convict. Local loan broker Tang Hoi-lam, 49, and merchant Gu Hao, 39, were acquitted in the District Court of plotting to bribe bank employees in an alleged attempt to help former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos withdraw money from her late husband's bank accounts in the SAR and the mainland. The collapse of what Judge Fergal Sweeney termed a 'colourful and indeed unique case' came two weeks after co-accused Chi Yiu-sui, 51, a mainland merchant and businesswoman Chuk Oi-fong, 50, were freed on the grounds that the Independent Commission Against Corruption had misled Ms Chuk into believing she would not be charged. In handing down the verdict - which a legal source close to the prosecution said was 'extraordinarily surprising' - Judge Sweeney ruled that the alleged plot hatched by the four involved no coherent planning but 'a lot of bull' by Mr Chi. The four were accused of plotting to bribe employees of the Bank of China and HSBC, including general manager Or Ching-fai, after Mrs Marcos allegedly guaranteed the four a 35 per cent slice of the Marcos fortune. The amount of money allegedly held in Marcos' frozen bank accounts in the SAR and on the mainland was said to have totalled more than $20 billion. In October 1999, Mr Gu financed a trip by Ms Chuk, Filipino Rafael Ramos and a Malaysian, surnamed Tan, to fly to New York in a bid to 'sell the idea' to Mrs Marcos, who 'seemed to agree to the proposal', Judge Sweeney said. Mrs Marcos then authorised Ms Chuk and the Filipino as her legal representatives with access to the bank accounts, the court had heard. Mr Ramos and Mr Tan dropped out of the plot when Mr Tang and Mr Chi, who claimed to have top-level connections with mainland military officials, entered the scheme. Prosecutor Kevin Zervos had accused Mr Tang of trying to offer a bribe to Mr Or through a friend, financier Wong Shek-ling, as a reward for helping with the withdrawal of the money. However, Judge Sweeney said while Mr Tang had taken a 'preliminary step' to get Mr Wong's help, there was insufficient evidence of 'an explicit agreement' among the alleged conspirators. 'I found that this was a very loose meeting of minds with no clear or coherent policy of how to implement the [authorisation] of Mrs Marcos . . . Basically [Mr Chi] is just talking a lot of bull,' he said, adding the prosecution did not know if the bank accounts actually existed. Chung Yuen-fu, defence lawyer for Mr Gu, applied for costs but Judge Sweeney rejected his appeal after Mr Zervos objected on the grounds that Mr Gu had been a part of the scheme. The ICAC said after the ruling that it respected the judge's verdict, but would not comment further on the case. However, a legal source close to the prosecution told the Post yesterday the prosecution would consider appealing against the verdict.