The employment of Jackson Chang’s wife and daughter at a company owned by an investment visa applicant, which Chang is said to have improperly assisted, was used as evidence against the former official in yesterday’s court hearing.
Chang, the former President of the Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM), stands accused of corruption charges relating to the granting of investment and skilled labor visas.
Yesterday, the Court of First Instance (TJB) continued the trial and Chang, his wife and seven other accused individuals attended the proceedings in court.
Yesterday’s trial was centered on two people: Ip On Kei, who is Chang’s wife, and Crystal Chang Sin Man, who is his daughter. The plaintiff’s witness, who was the only witness at yesterday’s proceedings, was the second individual from Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) to testify in this case.
The witness was one of the investigators in Chang’s case. Like the first CCAC witness, this one also presented PowerPoint slides he produced to support his testimony. As previously reported, the TJB judge allowed the CCAC witnesses to illustrate evidence through such slideshows along with their testimonies.
According to the indictment, the CCAC accuses Chang of receiving bribes through his wife and daughter. Chang is formally accused of providing inside knowledge about the immigration applications to another defendant, Ng Kuok Sao, and in turn receiving bribes from Ng for the help.
Yesterday’s trial addressed the bribery concerning Chang’s wife and daughter. The accusation states that Ng hired both Ip and Crystal Chang to Ng’s company (Yi Jian). Based on the salary payment to Ip and Crystal Chang, CCAC believes that Ng hired them, with lesser job demands, as a form of payment to Jackson Chang.
Regarding Chang’s wife, Ng had hired Ip in 2014 on a monthly salary of 15,000 patacas. Since her employment, Ip had always “worked from home.” “We consider it privileged treatment given Ip didn’t have to attend or to apply for leave, but she could work from home and still receive a salary,” the witness said.
Ip’s lawyer used Ip’s working experience, educational background, and some emails to undermine the testimony. In 2007 and 2008, Ip worked for two different companies, receiving a monthly salary of 19,000 patacas and 20,000 patacas. Ip has a Master of Business Administration from the former University of East Asia. According to some email records, Ip had been in conversation with Yi Jian’s customers regarding work matters.
However, the witness stated that the email only showed that Ip worked on some occasions. Ip did not have a desk at the company nor did she have an account log-in for the company’s computer system.
Ip’s lawyer questioned the exact amount of the salary which was meant as a bribe to Chang. The witness stated that the bribery was in the form of employment because allowing Ip to work remotely was privileged treatment compared to the requirements for other workers.
The second key person in yesterday’s trial was Crystal Chang. Ng hired Crystal in early 2015. Since August 2015, Crystal had received a monthly bonus for her excellent attendance.
Regularly, each month, she was awarded 1,800 patacas in addition to her monthly salary of 15,000 patacas. Crystal’s salary was about 5,000 patacas more per month than another woman, surnamed Leong, who held the same position as a front desk clerk. Leong, who joined the company in 2016, has slightly higher education, took less leave, and received less bonus than Crystal.
According to CCAC’s evidence, Crystal personally acknowledged that she frequently took leave.
Crystal’s lawyer defended her client by claiming that all of the leave was taken with reasonable justification. For instance, Crystal needed to attend school or take a trip to visit her family. Some evidence corroborated the lawyer’s argument. However, the witness said that Crystal’s reasons could not be verified. This specific CCAC investigator did not explore why Crystal was awarded for attendance nor did he confirm the validity of Crystal’s reasons for her leave.
According to one piece of evidence, there was one month when Crystal worked for 25 days, while her colleague, Leong, was on duty for 31 days. Yet, Crystal was awarded 1,800 patacas for excellent attendance whereas Leong was not. Both the judge and the lawyer expressed their intention to question a future witness about the salary for the particular month, as the motive for the bonus remained unexplained.
Another theory advanced by the CCAC was that Chang’s daughter was given 10% of the shares of a company created by Ng. However, both the daughter and the father’s lawyer objected to the accusation because the only document showing the 10% shares given was a handwritten note saying “Chang Sin Man, 10%.” CCAC’s witness also acknowledged that the company might not have even operated after its establishment based on the absence of financial records.
The judge appeared agitated after one defendant’s lawyer questioned the witness’s PowerPoint presentation.
Previously, the judge had approved the use of the PowerPoint slides by the CCAC’s witnesses as an supportive tool for the testimony.
During a previous trial, more than five lawyers, including Chang’s, Ip’s and Crystal’s, doubted the legitimacy of the PowerPoint and questioned the methodology of having a witness doing a PowerPoint presentation in the court. Chang’s lawyer even commented that “it was the first time in over 20 years of my career to see such a thing.”
Yesterday, when a lawyer asked about the PowerPoint presentation, the judge became visibly agitated, telling the lawyer that “the court has already approved the PowerPoint. What problem do you have with it?”