Slain police constable Tsui Po-ko had more than HK$550,000 in cash that could not be accounted for in his investment accounts between 2002 and 2004 - an amount that matched the loot taken in a bank robbery at Belvedere Garden in Tsuen Wan in 2001 - a police financial investigator testified Monday in Coroner's Court.
During the same period, Tsui lost HK$370,000 in trading, using 19 "out of sight" personal banking and investment accounts without his wife's knowledge, police superintendent Betty Pang Mo-yin of the Criminal Intelligence Bureau said.
The inquest heard Tsui had HK$2,977,513 worth of assets, including two flats in Tung Chung, and joint bank accounts with his wife, Lee Po- ling, as well as savings with the police credit union.
The CIB investigated Tsui's financial status from January 2000 to March 2006 and discovered he had a total of 19 personal banking and investment accounts hidden from his wife.
Tsui was killed in a shootout in a pedestrian subway in Tsim Sha Tsui on March 17 last year along with another constable, Tsang Kwok-hang. A third police officer, Sin Kar-keung, was also shot but survived.
Pang testified that Tsui's seven personal and 12 investment accounts were opened under his name around mid- February in 2002, using his friend Cheung Chun-wing's Temple Street home in Yau Ma Tei as the correspondence address.
Cheung told the court on March 26 this year that Tsui did not want his wife to know about his investments. Between February 2002 and October 2004, Tsui deposited HK$557,718 in cash into the 19 accounts, whereas his salary from the police force added up to only HK$743,392 during those 32 months.
"I don't believe Tsui had any other source of income, and I don't know where this sum of nearly HK$560,000 came from," Pang said.
She said Tsui was active in foreign exchange, commodities, securities, funds and margin trading, and he lost a total of HK$371,982 in those investments. Transactions done through the 19 accounts were exclusively in cash, she said.
Pang pointed out that using cash in transactions indicated Tsui was trying to operate without being traced. "The purpose of using cash was to avoid exposing the source of money. In money laundering, that's the way to cut off the money trail."
Pang said if evidence pointed to Tsui being the masked robber in the Belvedere Garden bank heist in 2001, he might have used these 19 accounts to funnel the loot and to use the money for his family expenses without his wife's knowledge. The bank lost nearly HK$500,000 in the holdup during which security guard Zafar Iqbal Khan was shot dead by the robber.
Pang said all of Tsui's 19 accounts were opened in February 2002, and that the amount and timing matched those relating to the Belvedere Garden bank heist. "We may not be able to explain the source, but having more than HK$500,000 definitely did not match a police constable's income."
Pang said the money from unknown sources amounted to HK$693,218, including HK$557,718 in cash and Tsui's winnings from soccer bets. She also testified that Tsui could have spent HK$693,334 legitimately, including his investment loss, HK$200,000 in investment earnings for his mother and personal expenses.
Together with his wife, Tsui bought a Tung Chung flat in August 1997, and paid it off with HK$574,800 cash. Two years later, he bought a flat at Tung Chung Crescent with a HK$396,173 down payment, paying monthly instalments of HK$17,778 for a first and a second mortgage. Pang said the Tsuis paid off two large mortgages in just five years - HK$388,151 in 2001 and HK$500,000 in 2004.