Ex-top official in Macau jailed 21 years for corruption

Ho Chio Meng headed Macau's public prosecutions office from 1999 to 2014.
Ho Chio Meng headed Macau's public prosecutions office from 1999 to 2014.

HONG KONG • Judges in the Chinese-controlled territory of Macau found a former top prosecutor guilty of over 1,000 charges yesterday and jailed him for 21 years, reported public broadcaster TDM.

Ho Chio Meng was once tipped as a candidate to head the former Portuguese colony, now the world's largest gambling hub. His graft case is the most high profile to hit Macau in more than a decade.

He was first charged in February last year after Macau's anti-corruption agency launched a criminal investigation against him.

Macau, the only place in China where nationals can legally gamble in casinos, has tried to clean up its act following President Xi Jinping's crackdown on corruption.

Ho, who headed Macau's public prosecutions office from 1999 to 2014, denied the charges, stating in court that they were "horrific". But he acknowledged that irregularities took place during his term.

During an emotional address in March, he was in tears as he asked the court to consider the case fairly, pointing out his poor health and the fate of his two children.

He and his lawyers have stated repeatedly that the investigation was biased, and that it was impossible for him to have committed the number of crimes he was charged with.

The case involved about 2,000 public contracts, which prosecutors state were illegally awarded by the prosecutions office and led to benefits for Ho and his family.

One of his lawyers, Mr Leong Weng Pun, quit the case in March, saying that the court was biased. As the trial took place in Macau's Court of Final Appeal, Ho does not have the right to an appeal.

In 2006, former transport secretary Ao Man-long was jailed for taking bribes, money laundering and abuse of power.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2017, with the headline 'Ex-top official in Macau jailed 21 years for corruption'. Print Edition | Subscribe