Tan trial put back giving Crown two months to gather evidence
THE trial of former Carrian boss George Tan has been adjourned for another two months because the prosecution has not yet completed collecting evidence in Malaysia.
Tan, 59, who was present in court for a five-minute appearance yesterday, had his $50 million cash bail and $1 million surety extended.
He has been on bail since he was first indicted in 1983 and is an active member of the Hongkong business community.
His lawyer, Monika Skowronska, said the defence consented to the case being adjourned to September 3.
Magistrate Gus Andree-Wiltens was told the evidence gathering was moving fast.
Although Mr Andree-Wiltens presided over yesterday's hearing in his capacity as a magistrate, it took place in the District Court where he is acting as a temporary deputy judge.
Tan faces nine charges of conspiracy to defraud Bumiputra Malaysia Finance Limited (BMFL) and eight charges of offering advantages worth $67.98 million.
The offences are alleged to have been committed between December 1979 and October 1983. BMFL was allegedly caused to make inadequately secured advances totalling US$746 million to various companies.
The proceedings in Malaysia have been hastened following the guilty plea of Tan's co-accused, former BMFL chairman Lorrain Osman, 62, who is serving a one-year jail term.
Osman is due to appear before Mr Andree-Wiltens on 15 other charges although his lawyers indicated at his sentencing that the Crown would offer no evidence on those charges.
During the drawn-out wait for trial, Tan has been involved in billion-dollar property deals with mainland firms and was linked with Hongkong Macau Holdings in the purchase of Nine Queen's Road Central.
Rodney Bell, former finance director for Tan's Carrian group, is a consultant to Hongkong Macau Holdings, which has a 20 per cent stake in the Sino-Hongkong Innsbruck consortium which completed the purchase of the property on June 30 for $3.49 billion.
Mr Bell is the chairman of Joint-Sincerity Ltd, which has an office on the 13th floor of the Hongkong Macau Building in Connaught Road Central, a dated block whose entrance is between a makeshift banana stall and an electrical shop.
A source said Tan was a regular visitor to the building and had been there on Monday.
He added: ''I have been seeing him for the past seven months and I haven't seen any change in his health.'' Tan has been in constant contact throughout the year with his close friend and business associate, Hongkong Macau Holdings chairman Hu Jinguang, providing ''personal business advice'', one company source said.
The source said he personally had last dealt with Tan in April and he seemed in his usual good health, but Tan would usually deal with Mr Hu by phone on an informal basis.
The pair often discussed property, with Mr Hu seeking Tan's advice.
The source knew nothing about reports that Tan had suffered a stroke last year.
''The two are quite close, both as friends and in business, but everything is very informal,'' he said.
Mr Hu has been in southern China since last week.