Hong Kong tycoons named in Macau corruption trial

Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:51am EDT
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HONG KONG (Reuters) - Two Hong Kong tycoons have been named in a Macau corruption trial involving a jailed former government official, dealing a further blow to the region's reputation after a series of scandals that have rocked the financial centre of Hong Kong.

Joseph Lau, chairman of property developer Chinese Estates Holdings (0127.HK: Quote), and the chairman of BMA Investment and South China Football Club, Steven Lo, were mentioned in the trial of Ao Man-long, Macau's former secretary for transport and public works.

Ao, who is already serving a 28-year jail term for taking bribes, faced additional charges on Monday of receiving bribes and money laundering, according to a court statement.

A company in which Lau and Lo are invested was among three bidders that submitted tenders in 2004 for five parcels of land opposite Macau's airport, Macau's Court of Final Appeal heard.

An assessment committee had found that none of the tenders met requirements. Lau and Lo's company, which was not named, won the tender after Ao became involved and received a bribe of HK$20 million ($2.6 million), the prosecution said.

There was no suggestion in the trial of wrongdoing on the part of Lau and Lo.

In March 2011, Chinese Estates bought the remaining 29.99 percent stake it did not hold in Moon Ocean, the owner of a leasehold interest in land near Macau's airport, the company's interim report showed.

Chinese Estates plans to develop the site in Macau into a high-end residential project with a total residential gross floor area of about 5.79 million square feet.

"Ao was the only person being charged in the trial yesterday and the case will be heard again tomorrow," a Macau government official told Reuters on Tuesday.   Continued...