Former Prosecutor-General Ho Chio Meng continued to deny all charges laid against him during yesterday’s court session at the Court of Final Appeal (TUI). The session addressed the charges related to money laundering and false declarations of assets.
However, Ho admitted to having made a “mistake” in failing to declare at least one of his bank accounts.
Ho assumed all of the blame for such a “failure,” clearing any other people – namely his wife Chao Siu Fu – of being related to the case.
Quite different calculations mean that the Public Prosecutions Office (MP) accuses Ho of 56 counts of aggravated money laundering, in addition to being the brain behind orders of cash withdrawals and deposits made by six front companies into accounts belonging to the former Prosecutor-General’s brother Ho Chio Shun.
The accusation states that Meng gave the orders.
Although there is no direct evidence to support this, the MP has voiced its belief that Meng ultimately was given the majority of the money transferred to his brother, a total of around MOP75.3 million.
These accusations were entirely denied by Ho who questioned in court how the MP arrived at the conclusion that he should be accused of 56 crimes.
Ho said: “I totally deny all these charges! They don’t make any sense! If I wanted to do something [illegal] I wouldn’t have had to do so many things to earn these ‘peanuts’.”
In keeping with denying every accusation, during yesterday’s trial session Ho created a new motto he called the “five no’s.” As he explained, the “five no’s” stand for: “one – I wasn’t aware; two – I haven’t participated; three – I didn’t ask for or solicit anything; four – I haven’t asked anyone to replace me to receive anything; five – I haven’t received even one cent from these people.”
Ho claimed that the accusation had significant flaws and was based on presumptions and assumptions.
“During the investigation phase, to assume some things are correct, facts are needed to substantiate them,” Ho said, asking the MP: “How did I suggest and give instructions [for the crimes of money laundering]? Where are those facts?”
From the prosecution side came the reply that there are phone records that indicate during the 10 years he was in charge of the MP that there were 29 phone calls between the defendant and people from those companies.
Ho called on “logic” to acknowledge that such a small number of phone calls over such a long time would make no sense in a process where he is accused of thousands of criminal actions, stating, “There is no way to connect one phone call with one act [that the MP claims occurred].”
There was a degree of thinking aloud in yesterday’s statements by the former prosecutor. “I have hope in this court and in the law. I hope the court can go through these 56 crimes one by one so I can defend myself,” he said.
Ho continued to reply to questions from both the collective of judges presided over by Sam Hou Fai and the prosecutors, reaffirming that he had no connection with any of the cases mentioned. He called for evidence from the prosecution side in addition to saying that the names mentioned “are only of people that aren’t here at this court.”
Ho even accused the prosecution of trying to preside over the court instead of Sam Hou Fai.
With relation to the accusations regarding assets, namely a residential unit acquired from his brother Shun when he was already under investigation by the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC),
Meng explained he acquired the unit because he was “tired of living in Taipa” and he wanted to move back to live in the Peninsula. His brother was merely conveniently looking to sell the apartment that he had bought back in 2006.
At stake is a total of MOP9.3 million that Meng is said to have paid his brother for the unit but that according to the prosecution ended up being invested by Shun in stocks for a VIP Club in a local casino. Meng reaffirmed that he was not aware of this investment and that it had nothing to do with him.
In response to a question from one of the prosecutors regarding an apparent mismatch between the version of the story he told in the early stages of the process to the CCAC and the one he offered the court, Ho said: “Yesterday was yesterday, now and here is what matters! I’ve heard many promises in the past from many people that now turned their backs on me.” His comment alluded to a veiled criticism of someone.
The trial will resume tomorrow morning.