But one conviction is overturned in controversial ICAC case A judge's decision during a trial last year to admit audio and video evidence obtained by the ICAC using illegal covert surveillance methods has been upheld by the Court of Appeal. However, the court took issue with the use of such evidence when it was used without sufficient independent evidence to convict people not involved in the monitored conversations. In a judgment issued yesterday, the city's second-highest court affirmed District Court judge Fergal Sweeney's decision to admit audio and video evidence from two restaurant meetings between conspirators in a stock scam. He unleashed a legal storm when he found the Independent Commission Against Corruption did not follow legal procedures, as required by the privacy provisions of the Basic Law, when conducting the covert surveillance. That controversy resulted in the passage of the Interception of Communications and Surveillance Ordinance, which created a legal basis for continued snooping by the city's law enforcement agencies. Li Man-tak, 39, a co-founder and former executive director of Kwong Hing International Holdings, was jailed for three years in June last year for conspiring with Louis Lin Chak-pui, Vincent Yum and Adrian Foo Tiang-hock to prop up the share price of his company between July 2003 and February last year. A fourth man, Nicholas Tan Chye-seng, 33, a former top research analyst with UBS, was jailed for two years for accepting a bribe to help produce a bullish research report on Kwong Hing. The Court of Appeal overturned that conviction and sentence yesterday after finding the evidence from the meetings, which Mr Tan did not attend, should not have been used against him. But the court found the judge's decision to allow the recordings as evidence against Li, who was also appealing against his sentence, was perfectly justified because Judge Sweeney had obviously conducted a balancing exercise between the rights of the accused and the needs of public security. 'The case is a very serious case of corruption,' the Court of Appeal said. 'It is a fraud against not just the company and its shareholders ... but the public at large, and thus has an impact on Hong Kong's image as a world-class financial centre. 'Any reasonable tribunal, adopting the proper approach, would have admitted the records of the meetings as evidence, albeit such evidence was obtained in breach of the right of privacy.' In the case of Mr Tan, the court took issue with Judge Sweeney's decision to admit the records of conversation from one of the meetings, at the Langham Hotel's Tang Court restaurant, on the basis that Mr Tan had lied during his first cautioned interview with investigators. The Court of Appeal ruled that the record of the meeting amounted to hearsay evidence, and a finding that a defendant was lying was not strong enough on its own to admit such evidence against them. The three judges - Vice-president Michael Stuart-Moore, Mr Justice Wally Yeung Chun-kuen and Mr Justice Azizul Suffiad - found the admission of the records of the Tang Court meeting rendered Mr Tan's conviction unsafe. Walking free from the court yesterday, Mr Tan said: 'It has been a long 16 months [in prison].'