The trial of socialite Mo Yuk-ping has taken a new twist, with the prosecution considering the possibility of amending the charge against her of stock-market manipulation. Mo, 42, is accused of conspiring with her secretary, Chung Sau-ling, 30, and others between June 2000 and May 2003 to manipulate shares in Shanghai Land Holdings, at the time controlled by Mo's husband, Chau Ching-ngai. Mo and Chung have pleaded not guilty. District Court Judge Alan Wright yesterday suggested that some of the evidence the court had heard might not be consistent with the stock-manipulation charge. The prosecution said it would study the judge's remark carefully and seek advice from the Department of Justice before deciding whether or not to amend the charge. Mo's lawyers said they would oppose any amendment. Prosecutor John Marray told the court last month that Chau had acquired a majority stake in Shanghai Land in June 2002 with a $1.7 billion loan from Bank of China (Hong Kong). Chau pledged his shares as collateral for the loan. Chau became chairman and executive director of Shanghai Land, and Mo the general manager. It was alleged that, as part of the loan agreement, the market value of 60 per cent of the pledged shares could not be lower than the outstanding loan balance between March and June 2003. The prosecutor said Mo had instructed Joanne Lui Ching-yee to keep the stock price at 58 cents or above in late March 2003, by which time the outstanding loan balance was $791 million. If the price fell to 57 cents, 60 per cent of the value of the pledged shares would amount to $782 million and as a consequence Chau would be required to make up the shortfall, he said. Mo also faces charges of perverting the course of public justice. She has denied the charges. The case continues on Monday.