Ex-official seeks new judge in fraud case

Local | Stella Wong 20 Jun 2019

Barry Cheung Chun-yuen, the former Executive Council member and chairman of the now-defunct Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange, yesterday requested the judge handling his fraud case be changed.

The defense applied to Judge Stanley Chan Kwong-chi at the District Court for a change of judge, as it believed Chan has an "apparent bias."

Cheung, 61, faces a joint charge of conspiracy to defraud with Jacky Choi Tat-ying, the former chief financial officer of the failed commodities trading platform.

The duo allegedly conspired to hide the exchange's actual financial position in order to mislead the Securities and Futures Commission into letting it keep its license.

Earlier, Cheung pleaded not guilty to the charge, while Choi, 50, pleaded guilty.

Cheung's lawyer, Eric Kwok Tung-ming, SC, said when Choi pleaded guilty in November last year, Chan asked if Choi will be a tainted witness to testify against Cheung. Kwok asked if the judge should be banned from encouraging a defendant that pleaded guilty to testify against other co-defendants.

Chan said it is "standard procedure" to encourage defendants to cooperate.

Chan admitted he said "Cheung is an influential person in society" and "I worry that someone will put pressure on Choi," but he emphasized there is no correlation between the sentences.

Kwok believes Chan is not suitable to continue handling the case, as the judge appeared biased towards Cheung.

The prosecution initially remained neutral on the issue, but later supported the defense's application.

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