Ex-Macau Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM) chief remanded in custody for graft: CCAC

The ex-president of the government’s Macau Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM), Cheong Chou Weng, also known as Jackson Chang, has been remanded in custody, awaiting trial for a range of corruption-related crimes, according to a Friday statement by the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) that, however, did not name Cheong but merely identified him by his former job.

Cheong was questioned by an examining magistrate on Thursday, after he had been a detained when he was about to leave Macau via the Barrier Gate checkpoint earlier that day.

Cheong had been requested by the CCAC on Wednesday to present himself to the CCAC headquarters in Nape for questioning on Thursday morning, which he accepted. Afterwards he tried to exit Macau.

Cheong was suspended from his post in October last year in the wake of a CCAC investigation into crimes allegedly committed by him and others in the granting of residence permits for investors and professionals by the institute.

At the time of his suspension he had been barred from leaving Macau. However, according to government-owned Radio Macau, the exit ban was no longer in force when he was detained at the checkpoint.

The examining magistrate early on Friday remanded Cheong in custody.

Meanwhile, the CCAC said in a statement on Friday that the ex-IPIM president as well as a former member of the executive committee of the institute and the ex-deputy director of the institute’s Residency and Legal Affairs Division allegedly committed the crimes of bribe-taking, document forgery, breach of secrecy, abuse of power and other offences in the process of assessing applications for, and granting residence permits for investors and professionals.

The CCAC statement did not name any of the suspects.

However, media reports last year identified not only Cheong but also IPIM executive committee member Glória Batalha Ung as suspects in the case.

According to the CCAC statement, graft busters discovered during the investigation that a local “business couple”, which was not named, connived with the IPIM suspects between 2010 and 2018 in the illegal granting of residence permits for investors and professionals, involving the setting-up of more than 50 companies as well as a raft of bogus investment projects and applicants’ fake curricula vitae.

The statement said that the case involves more than 10 million patacas received by the “business couple” and their accomplices in fake “agency fees” from the residence permit applicants.

According to the statement, the “business couple” and others face charges of bribe-giving, criminal organisation, document forgery and possession of forged document. The statement did not elaborate on the current situation of the “business couple”.

The statement also said that Cheong received from the “business couple” a string of “illicit advantages”, such as bribes, jobs and company shares through his wife, daughter, and “lover” in mainland China.

According to the statement, the ex-deputy chief of IPIM’s Residency Application and Legal Affairs Division, who later worked as a department chief for the Pension Fund, was directly involved in the racket.

The ex-member of IPIM’s executive committee – Batalha – allegedly provided “illegal assistance” and disclosed confidential internal information to ensure that a number of the fraudulent residency permit applications would be processed and approved “easily”.

Glória Batalha Ung at the time of her suspension in the IPIM was also Deputy Secretary-General of the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (Macao), also known as Forum Macao.

Irene Va Kuan Lau was appointed in May this year chairman of the Board of Directors of the Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM) to substitute Jackson Chang.

Irene Lau was acting chairman of the IPIM between October 2018 and May this year.(CLBrief)

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