Macau Court sentences whole family of government minister for money laundering infrastructure procurement

By Christine Duhaime | June 9th, 2008

Government official had assets worth 57 times his salary

The Collegial Bench of the Court of First Instance of Macau today sentenced a whole family for money laundering in connection with bribes over a government infrastructure project.

The family members are related to Macau’s former Secretary for Transport and Public Works, Ao Man Long. Mr. Ao was a politically exposed person.

In January 2008, Mr. Ao was convicted of 57 counts of corruption, abuse of power, money laundering and unjustified wealth by Macau’s Court of Final Appeal for accepting a HK$20 million bribe. The funds were deposited into the account of a shell company owned by Mr. Ao. They were paid by Chinese Estates Holdings Ltd.

Mr. Ao was sentenced to 27 years in jail and his property was forfeited to the government, including cash, bonds, luxury watches and wine which had a value annually of 57 times his salary.

When Ao was arrested, the Commission Against Corruption found that he owned money and assets worth about MOP800 million, even though his salary was just MOP14 million.

The Court found that the family members were aware of Mr. Ao’s money laundering and enabled him to conceal the proceeds. Their conduct, the Court held, severely hurt the government’s image and weakened confidence in the rule of law. Moreover, it brought into question the integrity of the public procurement process in infrastructure projects, as well as increased the cost of construction.

The family members who were sentenced include his wife, his brother, his sister-in-law and his father. They were sentenced to between 23 and 10 years jail and ordered to pay fines in the millions of dollars.

Ho Meng Fai, a contractor, was also convicted of money laundering. He was initially charged with bribery and money laundering and escaped while on bail. He was convicted in absentia and sentenced to 25 years in jail. He is being sought by Interpol.

The case involves bribes paid allegedly by two Hong Kong businessmen, Steven Lo Kit Sing, CEO of BMA Investment Group Ltd., and Joseph Lau Luen Hung, chairman of a Hong Kong listed company, Chinese Estates Holdings Ltd., to Mr. Ao.

Both were involved in construction of several casinos including the Galaxy Macau, StarWorld Macau and Grand Waldo Hotel.

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