Corruption | Graftbuster finds final proof in IPIM residency vetting case

The former president of the Board of Directors of the Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM), Jackson Chang, was placed in preventive custody last week following the completion of Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) investigative procedures, which revealed more wrongdoing by the senior government official.

The investigation, which has been ongoing since October 2018, involves at least three former IPIM officials; its ex-president and former vice presidents.
In a report published on Friday, the CCAC announced that it has collected more evidence on the wrongdoing of the officials regarding the unlawful granting of residency status through an investment scheme.

Besides Chang, a former member of the Executive Committee of IPIM, Glória Batalha, and the former chief of the IPIM’s Residency Application and Legal Affairs Division, Miguel Ian, allegedly committed crimes including document forgery, breach of secrecy and abuse of power.

According to the report published by the CCAC, the officials acted unlawfully in the process of vetting and approving applications for “major investment immigration” and “technical immigration” programs.

The same report also noted that the decision of putting Chang in preventive custody while awaiting trial, was ordered by a judge of the Court of Criminal Instruction, based on a recommendation from the Public Prosecutions Office (MP).

The CCAC report notes that the investigation highlighted that “between 2010 and 2018, a local business couple colluded with some other individuals to provide ‘one-stop services’ to apply for ‘major investment immigration’ or ‘technical immigration’ on behalf of others by making use of the over 50 companies opened or controlled by such couple, which would fabricate investment projects, professional experiences and employment relationships in order to make huge illicit profits.”

It added that “the syndicate” made use of the false transfer of ownership stakes of these shell companies.  They controlled the process to benefit the applicants so they could meet the requirements for such programs.
At the same time, and through the same companies, they forged agreements and qualifications so that the applicants could also meet the requirements for technical immigration for positions such as “general manager of human resources” or “electrical systems engineer,” as well as forgeries that included working experience as well as fake payroll records.

According to the CCAC, this “criminal organization” would benefit by collecting “agency fees” from the applicants, in a sum that involves an amount over MOP10 million.

The CCAC also found that the organization would keep records of these fraudulent activities on a book-keeping system, where the records would show that they would refund 20% or 30% from the fees charged, directly to IPIM, tagged under the code of “consulting and miscellaneous fees” or “consultation fee.”
The CCAC reaffirms that the investigation found proof that Chang colluded with the group by providing them illegal assistance in making applications to the immigration authority as well as “actively facilitating the approval of the fraudulent applications.”

The CCAC also claims to have found proof that several people related to Chang, namely his wife, daughter and his mistress in the mainland China, received illicit advantages from this system for long periods of time.

Among those noted are, “kickbacks, jobs, and shares of companies,” thus he is being accused of “passive corruption to perform illicit acts, document forgery and breach of secrecy.”
The CCAC is also targeting Chang for violating the Legal Regime of Assets Declaration for Public Officials by providing “inaccurate data” and hiding assets achieved by fraudulent means.

As for the other two officials, Batalha and Ian, they are being accused of “abuse of power and breach of secrecy” regarding the public duties they were performing, as by providing “illicit assistance” to at least two applicants and sharing “confidential information,” they allowed such applicants to have their requests easily approved.

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