Hong Kong tycoon tells court he sold Macau project to Chinese Estates

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 20, 2012 6:08 AM
Hong Kong tycoon tells court he sold Macau project to Chinese Estates

By Twinnie Siu and Alex Frew McMillan

MACAU/HONG KONG (Reuters) - High-profile Hong Kong businessman Steven Lo testified in a corruption trial in Macau on Friday that he was the former owner of Moon Ocean, a company that he sold to property tycoon Joseph Lau that is developing a residential project near Macau's airport.

Lo told the Macau Court of Final Appeal that he brought Chinese Estates Holdings Ltd Chairman Lau in on the deal and that both men had attended a dinner with now-jailed former Macau government official Ao Man-long. Lo said the three men did not discuss property at the event, focusing on the tourist trade.

Lo, a Hong Kong native who grew up in Macau, is chairman of the South China Football Club and BMA Investment, which has interests including a record label, a karaoke-bar chain, nightclubs and movie production.

Ao, currently serving a 28-1/2 year sentence for accepting bribes to expedite deals in Macau, is standing trial on nine fresh corruption charges. He was previously secretary for transport and public works.

Ao allegedly received HK$20 million ($2.58 million) in the tender for 78,000 square meters of land opposite Macau's airport, now the site of a luxury development, La Scala, being developed by Moon Ocean, now a subsidiary of Chinese Estates.

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Lo testified that HK$20 million was paid to a construction company for advance preliminary work, but did not address the bribery allegation on Friday.

($1 = 7.7625 Hong Kong dollars)

(Reporting by Twinnie Siu in MACAU and Alex Frew McMillan in HONG KONG; Editing by Chris Lewis)