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Friends forever?

Mak Im Tai, one of the defendants in the corruption case against the former top official Ho Chio Meng, revealed that Ho had not been involved in his previous junket business

The former Prosecutor-general Ho Chio Meng was not involved in a junket business allegedly linked to him, according to defendant Mak Im Tai, who appeared in the Court of First Appeal yesterday.
The presiding judge, Lam Peng Fai, questioned Mak about the operations of his junket business, with the defendant stating that money obtained through a company co-established with another defendant in the case, Wong Kuok Wai, had been used. The company in question had obtained contracts from the Public Prosecutions Office (MP).
Mak added that he mostly used his own savings to invest in the junket business, and profits would have been shared with Wong if Mak had used money from their own companies.
Regarding the operation of the companies, Mak stressed that he never took part in managing the companies, claiming that he had complete trust in Wong for their operations, calling him a friend of his for over 30 years.
Mak said he only signed cheques when Wong asked him to, claiming that he was not sure what the cheques were used for.
However, the presiding judge expressed doubts about Mak’s limited engagement in the companies, questioning why Mak would create a co-account with Wong if he wasn’t involved much in his own companies.
The defendant explained that he was always busy and was not in Macau most of time, and contrary to his earlier stated “great trust” in Wong, noted that he thought it necessary to be “a little reserved”.
Judge Lam also asked the reason why the majority of companies were registered under different names. Mak answered that it was perhaps due to the different aspects and types of services and products provided.
When asked if he knew that his companies’ offices were located on the 16th floor of the Hotline Building, where the Public Prosecutions Office (MP) is also located, Mak said he seldom visited the office, saying that he generally signed cheques outside the building in his car. Hence, he claimed he did not know exactly where his office was located.
He added that he usually signed cheques once or twice a month.
According to Judge Lam, all the suspected companies were closed down on almost the same day, after the defendants were inspected by the city’s corruption regulator, the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC). Mak stated that he had heard the companies didn’t have any business anymore and the others did not want to run the business anymore.

Long-time friends
Meanwhile, when asked by the prosecutors how he knew Ho, Mak revealed that he had first met Ho at a friend’s gathering in the 1980s, but had seldom had contact with him after Ho took on the position of prosecutor-general.
The defendant revealed that it was Ho who told him about the need for a storage room for evidence from the MP’s office, and as such rented Mak’s storage room for over 10 years.
He stressed that the rental price was determined by studying prices offered by other real estate agents, emphasising that the price was in fact lower than that of the market.
During the hearing, the prosecutor played a few taped telephone recordings, one of which was a conversation between Ho and Mak, in which one of them claimed to be being tailed by two cars.
Mak, in response, said he was not sure whether the person speaking was him.
In addition, he claimed that he had never had the nickname “the Little God of Wealth”, a name he allegedly used to conduct business dealings, according to the prosecution.

Not a friend of Ho Chio Meng
While defendant Wong Kuok Wai requested to remain silent due to unstable health during yesterday’s afternoon session, Wong claimed during the morning session that he did not know the top official at all.
According to TDM news, Wong explained that he would ask one of his staff to send quotations to the MP’s reception before undertaking any projects from the MP.
When questioned as to why he had applied for some of the MP projects when very little information was divulged, Wong explained that perhaps the MP had great confidence in his work.
Wong said he knew the former top official’s brother, another defendant in the case, stating that his company had previously taken on the refurbishment project of his residence.
Meanwhile, when asked why his companies were paying the former official’s brother’s mobile phone charges, Wong answered that probably Lei Kuan Pun, also a defendant in the case, and one of the staff working for Wong, as well Ho Chio Meng’s brother-in-law, had paid the bills without informing him.
A number of documents related to Ho’s brother were shown, but Wong only claimed he was not sure and did not know about the documents.
Both the case in the Court of Final Appeal and that in the Court of First Appeal will continue today.