Former IPIM President corruption trial start again delayed to June 11

The start of the corruption trial involving former Macau Investment Trade Promotion Institute (IPIM) President, Jackson Chang, has been delayed again after only 10 of its 26 defendants showed up at today’s scheduled session at the Court of First Instance (TJB).

The start of the trial was again postponed to June 11, but with no possibility of another delay.

The court also indicated that the whole week between August 3 and 11 – usually the court holiday break period – will also be reserved solely for sessions for this trial so as to speed up proceedings.

Chang is facing charges for criminal association, corruption, money laundering and breach of secrecy for allegedly benefiting from fraudulent residence permits granted by IPIM for investment or to highly qualified professionals.

The former Director of the IPIM, Glória Batalha Ung, and former chief of the IPIM’s Residency Application and Legal Affairs Division, Miguel Ian Iat Chun, are also facing abuse of power and breach of secrecy charges in this case.

The three former IPIM management defendants were present today in court.

Ung’s lawyer, Pedro Leal, opposed the judge’s decision for the second delay stating that the absent defendants had been notified.

Chang’s wife and daughter are also defendants in a case involving several businessmen, family members and individuals said to have benefitted from the fraudulent residence permits.

The former IPIM head was detained in July, 2019, after attempting to leave Macau and shortly after the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) revealed the findings of its investigation into the department’s residence schemes.

According to the 2019 annual report, Chang was in collusion with a criminal group composed of a business couple and three other individuals, receiving, from the leader of that group and over a long period of time, illicit advantages through their spouse, daughter and mistress Mainland China to provide illegal support when examining applications for immigration to Macau submitted by members of that group.

Meanwhile, Miguel Ian was said to have participated directly in the criminal activities of that group with Gloria Ung allegedly providing illegal support to two applicants for specialized workers residence permits by revealing confidential internal information from the service, so that the requests of the referred applicants could be easily approved.

The businessman involved in the scheme was said to have bribed civil servants in Macau, being charged for active corruption, and was said to have colluded with other members of that group to provide services for people wanting to obtain residence through IPIM.

The group simulated the transmission to applicants of shares from fictitious companies that they owned or that were under their effective control, thus falsifying investment projects and the effective investments of companies, and this way fulfilling the requirements for investment residence permits.

The group also hired the applicants using the respective companies as specialized workers, falsified data relating to the professional experience, and the payment records of the applicants’ wages, for obtaining specialised work visas.

Through these means, the group was said to have obtained MOP10 million (US$1.2 million) with all applicants said to have obtained the forged temporary residences also charged with crimes of document forgery and the use of false documents.

Chang’s lawyer, Álvaro Rodrigues, and those of two other defendants also requested for the court to remove statements collected by the CCAC in Zhuhai as evidence from the accusation, stating that since they were collected outside the Macau SAR and outside the courts they should not be considered valid.

However, the judge presiding decided to maintain the testimonies collected as evidence, stating that as testimonies collected outside the courts they would not be considered as the main evidence in the case.