Three of the nine defendants in a trial related to convicted former chief public prosecutor Ho Chio Meng were acquitted on Tuesday while the other six were sentenced to two to 14 years behind bars.
According to the Macau Post Daily, Ho was sentenced to 21 years behind bars last month for over 1,500 crimes including corruption, fraud, embezzlement, organised crime, money laundering and unjustified wealth. He was also sentenced to pay 18.36 million patacas to the Public Prosecution Office (MP) as well as more than 57 million patacas in losses caused by him or other suspects in the case.
Ho, 62, was once tipped by some local media as a future chief executive. He is also a former senior anti-corruption officer.
According to previous media reports based on documents presented in court, Ho Chio Meng awarded about 2,000 contracts worth over 167 million patacas on behalf of the Public Prosecution Office (MP) that illicitly benefitted his family and accomplices between 2004 and 2014. Ho and nine other defendants, including his wife, stood accused of receiving around 44 million patacas in ill-gotten gains.
Ho was tried by the Court of Final Appeal (TUI) because of his former status as a principal official of the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR). Consequently, he does not have the right to appeal.
Tuesday’s ruling was handed down by the Court of First Instance (TJB) in Nam Van.
The court said the three defendants who were acquitted comprise former chief-of-cabinet of Ho’s office António Lai Kin Ian, former Public Prosecution Office (MP) advisor Chan Ka Fai and Alex Lam Hou Un, an employee of the various front companies involved in the case.
The three-judge bench said that Lai did not participate in Ho’s criminal activities, nor did he have any knowledge of them. Chan was acquitted because the court came to the conclusion that he was not one of Ho’s accomplices.
The court ruled that Ho Chio Meng’s elder brother Ho Chiu Shun and his brother-in-law Lei Kwan Pun are to serve 13 and 12 years in prison for organised crime, money laundering and other charges respectively.
Businessmen Wong Kuok Wai and Mak Im Tai, owners of the front companies involved in the case, were sentenced to 14 and 12 years in prison respectively.
Wang Xiangdi, a former MP official, was sentenced to six years in prison while Ho Chio Meng’s wife Chao Sio Fun was sentenced to two years behind bars suspended for three years and six months.
Wong and Mak, who had been remanded in custody since their arrests, were the only two defendants who appeared in court Tuesday to hear their sentences. The other seven defendants were absent. Lai and Chao were absent for reasons of ill health while Chan, who was acquitted, could not be reached by the court. Lam, who also was acquitted, was absent as well.
Ho Chiu Shun, Lei and Wang were absent throughout the trial. They were sentenced in absentia.