A former top prosecutor in Macau turned a government-rented property into a karaoke bar and sauna where he received massages, as part of a decade-long fraud that cost his office more than 76 million patacas, the former Portuguese enclave’s highest court was told on Friday. At the start of the high-profile trial, Macau’s Court of Final Appeal heard that former prosecutor general Ho Chio-meng teamed up with relatives to create a “criminal enterprise”, meddled with exhibits in investigations and used his influence to hire a mainland Chinese woman who was not qualified for a legal role. Ho’s competence when heading the city’s prosecutions was also called into question as the man once tipped to become Macau’s next chief executive repeatedly told a panel of three judges that he was not involved in a number of decisions which are key to his case. “That’s a rather frivolous [attitude],” court president Sam Hou-fai said, when the former prosecutor said he had rarely looked at the documents he signed when he was in office. Ho replied: “ Yes, I admit that.” He was arrested in February when he tried to board a ferry to Hong Kong, and now faces 1,970 charges including abuse of power, aggravated fraud, creating a criminal enterprise and money laundering, dating as far back as the turn of the century. Reading out a long list of allegations against Ho, judge Sam accused him of spending taxpayers’ money to rent the 16th floor of the Edificio Walorly commercial building for his personal use. The premises were officially paid for as a “resting room” for foreign guests, but Ho was accused of asking maintenance workers to keep silent about his own use. The premises were fitted with gym equipment, a table tennis table, a baby bed and pieces from his personal art collection. The court also heard that Ho was involved in moving decorative items seized by customs and stored in the prosecutor’s office to the private premises – and later even to his home. Ho denied the allegations, saying he was not involved in ordering two staff to fetch the decorations made of rosin wood. It was within his legal power to inspect such exhibits, he argued. But the judges questioned his motive, asking him why he “cares about the case so much”, especially when he was never involved in the investigation. Ho was also accused of teaming up with his brother and brother-in-law to create 10 shell companies, with neither technical knowledge nor manpower, to secure contracts worth more than 4 billion patacas from the prosecutor’s office. The contracts would then be outsourced. The court also heard that Ho hired a mainlander for a legal post by creating a “false impression” that she was up to the job. The woman received a total of 4 million patacas in salary and subsidies between 2012 and 2015 and was driven to her Zhuhai home in a government vehicle on some occasions. In 2005, Ho allegedly claimed more than he needed for an overseas work trip to an international summit for prosecutors and to fund his wife and nephew’s trips to the Netherlands, Germany and other parts of northern Europe. The case continues on Monday.