Not in my name
Former Prosecutor-general Ho Chio Meng claims his former subordinates signed and approved most of the 350 contracts included in the accusations against him in yesterday’s session.
The corruption case against the former top official continued yesterday at the Court of Final Appeal mostly in the same vein as the session on Friday, with the Prosecution questioning Mr. Ho in regards to 350 of the 1,300 contracts allegedly awarded through illicit means to front companies created by a supposed criminal association.
According to the accusations, the former top official and his associates absconded MOP18.3 million (US$2.2 million) from a total of MOP35.7 million of 350 awarded contracts between 2004 and 2014.
The majority of the contracts mentioned in yesterday’s session were purchase and maintenance contracts for the Prosecutor’s Office of copy machines, metal detectors, air conditioners, plant purchases, cameras and electronic material.
The largest amount referred to 101 contracts between 2006 and 2014 for electronic supplies, totalling MOP3.9 million. Some of the contracts even referred to white ant prevention services and bonsai rentals at government buildings and at the former Prosecutor’s official residence in Penha Hill.
Not my permission
With the former Prosecutor-general choosing to read each contract one-by-one, most of the session involved the presiding judges questioning Mr. Ho as to why contracts, even some as small as MOP10,000, had been commissioned to secondary companies after the official adjudication, with the ex-Prosecutor-general answering that he hadn’t signed the majority of the mentioned contracts.
Of the more than 1,300 contracts awarded between 2006 and 2014, Ho Chio Meng is said to have authorized more than 930, including public relations contracts for the payment of airfares, hotels and car rental, among others, in order to obtain illegitimate benefits for his friends and other individuals not part of the Prosecutor’s Office.
However, in regards to the 350 contracts mentioned yesterday, Mr. Ho claimed his former Chief-of-Staff Lai Kin Ian had signed most of them, stating that as Prosecutor-general, his functions didn’t involve overseeing menial tasks, while denying having knowledge of the companies and amounts involved.
“Why would I propose a company just to obtain cheaper USB drives? (…) I never prepared any proposal or gave any indication for the awarded company, I just signed the documents,” stated Ho.
In the cases where the former official admitted to having authorised the contracts at the time of performing his functions, Mr. Ho promptly denied having done so as a way to attain illicit gains from public funds.
The court hearings will now stop for the judicial break over Christmas with the next hearing scheduled to take place on January 4.