A barrister calls for a 'stale case of fraud' against Lee Ming Tee to be thrown out The prosecution of the former chairman of the Allied Group over decade-old fraud allegations had turned into a persecution and should be thrown out of court, a High Court judge heard yesterday. The statement was made in support of Lee Ming Tee's application before Mr Justice Robert Tang in the Court of First Instance yesterday for a permanent stay of proceedings - the third time the courts have heard such an application. Lee has been successful twice before in obtaining an order for a stay of proceedings, before Mr Justice Pang Kin-kee in July 2000 and then before Mr Justice Conrad Seagroatt in December 2002. Both were overturned by the Court of Final Appeal. Lee has always denied two charges of conspiracy to defraud and four charges of publishing a false statement of account he faces in relation to events between 1990 and 1992. His co-accused, Ronald Tse Chu-fai, the company's former finance director, pleaded guilty last December to one count of publishing a false statement and was given a suspended sentence. A further five charges against him were allowed to remain on file but will not be pursued. Yesterday, Lee's counsel, Jonathan Caplan QC, told the court the action against his client breached Article 11 (2) (c) of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights dealing with the rights of those charged with or convicted of a criminal offence, since it ordained 'these persons be tried without undue delay'. He said Lee was entangled with the Allied Group's troubles at the time and was interviewed in the first half of 1993 in an inquiry set up by the Securities and Futures Commission to investigate the company's financial circumstances. Mr Caplan said police from the Commercial Crime Bureau sat in on meetings held as part of the inquiry, and said this amounted to a 'covert investigation' of his client. While Tse and another suspect had fled Hong Kong, Mr Caplan said 'Lee Ming Tee was left in Hong Kong for 51/2 years from the beginning of the police investigation until his arrest in August 1996'. He also pointed to delays his client had experienced due to the scheduling of the various trials. Mr Caplan said a third trial, before Mr Justice Michael Burrell, was set down for October 26 - 14 months after the Court of Final Appeal overturned Mr Justice Seagroatt's order for a stay. The barrister said if the case did proceed, it would run into next year. Calling the chronology of Lee's prosecution 'chilling', Mr Caplan said it would be 14 years from the date of the alleged offences until the third trial. 'One should be appalled by this situation ... when a prosecution becomes a persecution and it becomes intolerable that a defendant and his family is still living with the stress of the prosecution,' he said. 'This is a stale case of fraud with no provable case. No victims have come forward to say they have lost money,' he added. The hearing, set down for five days of argument, continues today.