Ao Man-long

Infobox_Minister
honorific-prefix =
name = Ao Man-long
zh-t|t=歐文龍
zh-p|p=Ōu Wénlóng
honorific-suffix =


imagesize =
birth_date =
birth_place = Macau
spouse = Chan Meng-leng
caption = Ao being escorted to the dock by police officers
order =
office =Secretary for Transport and Public Works. Macau
term_start = 20 December 1999
term_end = 6 December 2006
successor = Edmund Ho
predecessor = new post

Ao Man Long (born in Macau, December 1956) was the first Secretary for Transport and Public Works of the Macau Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, from 20 December 1999 to 6 December 2006.

On 8 December 2006, Ao was arrested based on a case built by the Macau Commission Against Corruption, making him the highest-ranking official arrested in the history of Macau.cite web|url=http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=11&art_id=41676&sid=13010601&con_type=1&d_str=20070405&sear_year=2007
title= Macau graft probe uncovers a fortune
author= Michael Ng|publisher= "The Standard"|date= 5 April 2007
] Ao had allegedly offered preference in government works projects, and had amassed assets totalling 804 million patacas. On 30 January 2008, Ao was found guilty on 40 counts of bribe-taking, amongst others, and was sentenced to 27 years in prison. Ao was aided and abetted by four family members, who were also jailed for between 10 and 18 years money laundering.

Career

After Ao's graduation from Yuet Wah College, Macau, he worked for two years before beginning his undergraduate studies at National Taiwan University. He earned his Bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1982. He returned to Macau and joined the government in 1987. He was appointed as the first Secretary for Transport and Public Works after the handover of Macau from Portugal to the PRC on 20 December 1999. [ [http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/ljzg/3566/t17776.htm Information on the major officials and the Procurator-General of the MSAR] , Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (15 November 2000)]

Arrest

On 6 December 2006, Ao was arrested for allegedly taking bribes and having engaged in irregular financial activities. The Macau Commission Against Corruption (CAC) alleged that between 2002 and 2006, Ao received MOP 187 million in bribes from three real estate and construction companies, two from Macau and one from the mainland, in return for which Ao had allegedly offered preference in 20 government works projects. Ao allegedly had assets not commensurate with his earnings: Ao and his wife earned 14 million patacas from their official posts between 2000 and 2006, yet had accumulated assets totalling 804 million patacas (US$100m), equivalent to 57 times their earnings.cite web|url=http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=1&art_id=56348&sid=16141809&con_type=3&d_str=20071106&sear_year=2007
title= Seven-hour indictment kicks off trial
author= Staff reporter|publisher= "The Standard"|date= 6 November 2007
] Ao was charged with 76 counts, including corruption, bribe-taking, money laundering and abuse of power.cite web|url=http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=13&art_id=56297&sid=16134190&con_type=1&d_str=20071105&sear_year=2007
title= US$100m graft trial exposes Macau's corrupt underbelly
author= Staff reporter|publisher= "The Standard"|date= 5 November 2007
]

According to Article 50 of the Basic Law of Macau, the removal of ministers would require Central Government approval. Citing "irrefutable evidence" of improper behavior, Chief Executive Edmund Ho asked Beijing to remove Ao from office.

Trial

Ao Man-long stood trial in Macau on 5 November 2007,cite web|url=http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=13&art_id=56297&sid=16134190&con_type=1&d_str=20071105&sear_year=2007
title= US$100m graft trial exposes Macau's corrupt underbelly
author= Staff reporter|publisher= "The Standard"|date= 5 November 2007
] facing 30 years in prison. Given Ao's status of Government Secretary (equivalent to Minister), he was tried directly in the Court of Final Appeal of the Macau SAR. Over one hundred witnesses were called to testify.

Although it was an open trial, the 500-page indictment was not made public. Media representatives petitioned for its release, but it was denied by judge Viriato Manuel Pinheiro de Lima, who said it would affect witnesses' thoughts and testimony.cite web|url=http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=11&art_id=56645&sid=16226910&con_type=1&d_str=20071110&sear_year=2007
title= Shock as Ao clams up over `misunderstandings'
author= Nickkita Lau|publisher= "The Standard"|date= 10 November 2007
] The prosecution charged Ao with having received millions of dollars in kickbacks for contracts, including those for the dome constructed for the 2005 East Asian Games, the Venetian and the Galaxy StarWorld Hotel, from Ho Meng-fai, Chairman of San Meng Fai Engineering and Construction Company.

Anti-corruption officers were aided unwittingly by Ao, who kept details of every illegal transaction and the kickbacks he received in a notebook. Ho Meng-fai - who had jumped bail - confessed in statements given to the CAC and the procurator's office that Ao offered to recommend his company to foreign investors in exchange for 2 to 3 percent of the winning tenders. Ho said between 2004 and 2006, he paid Ao about HK$140 million in kickbacks, for private projects only.cite web|url=http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=11&art_id=60068&sid=17108970&con_type=1&d_str=20080115&sear_year=2008
title= Businessman admits giving $140m to Ao
author= Nickkita Lau in Macau|publisher= "The Standard"|date= 15 January 2008
] During the trial, 7 witnesses, including Ho, went missing. [cite web|url=http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=13&art_id=58571&sid=16720985&con_type=1&d_str=20071213&sear_year=2007
title= 7 witnesses missing in Ao graft trial
author= Nickkita Lau|publisher= "The Standard"|date= 20 November 2007
]

Ao allegedly set up shell companies a network of secret bank accounts in Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands with the help of friends and family members to launder bribe money. Ao's father Ao Veng-kong, brother Ao Man-fu, sister-in-law Ao Chan Va-choi were charged with setting up overseas bank accounts and shell companies for Ao Man-long to handle kickbacks. The total amounts deposited in more than a dozen Hong Kong bank accounts under his father's name exceeded HK$157 million as of December 2006. The three family members pleaded not guilty, claiming Ao Man-long opened the bank accounts for them.

Verdict and sentencing

On 30 January 2008,cite web|url=http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=12&art_id=60974&sid=17369687&con_type=3&d_str=20080131&sear_year=2008
title= 27 years behind bars
author= Nickkita Lau|publisher= "The Standard"|date= 31 January 2008
] Ao was found guilty on 40 counts of bribe-taking, 13 counts of money laundering, two counts of abuse of power, one count of incorrect declaration of assets and one count of holding assets from unknown sources; Ao was sentenced to 27 years in prison. About MOP 252 million of his assets in Macau were ordered seized. Ao decided not to appeal. [cite web|url=http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=11&art_id=61172&sid=17441115&con_type=1&d_str=20080205&sear_year=2008
title= Ao decides against appealing 27-year prison term
author= Nickkita Lau|publisher= "The Standard"|date= 5 February 2008
] There were concerns in Macau that Ao was the fall-guy, amidst disbelief that corruption on such a scale could take place without anyone else knowing or being involved. [cite web
title= Casinos and greed spark Macau fears |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/nolpda/ifs_news/hi/newsid_7226000/7226149.stm
author= Vaudine England |publisher= BBC News| date=5 Feb 08
] During his trial, Ao hinted that contacts valued at in excess of 6 million Patacas required the approval of his superior in government, Edmond Ho.

In a separate trial, his wife was sentenced "in absentia" to 23 years in jail for her role in laundering money. Ao's four family members, each accused of six to 14 counts of money laundering activities, were also jailed for between 10 and 18 years. Ao's wife is believed to have absconded to the United Kingdom. [cite web|url=http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=11&art_id=66867&sid=19215795&con_type=1&d_str=20080605&sear_year=2008
title= 23 years for wife of corrupt Macau official
author= Staff reporter|publisher= "The Standard"|date= 5 June 2008
] Macau authorities were cooperating with the ICAC in Hong Kong to retrieve an estimated HK$637 million (US$81.7 million), which was reportedly deposited in 39 Hong Kong bank accounts in Ao's name and 92 overseas bank accounts opened in the name of his relative-accomplices. [ [http://english.sina.com/taiwan_hk/1/2008/0725/173272.html Macao takes legal actions to reclaim Ao's ill-gotten wealth in HK] , Sina News (25 July 2008)]

Appeals

On March 2008, reports emerged according to which a fresh set of criminal proceedings related to other acts corruption was being investigated by the Macau Commission Against Corruption. [ [http://www.macaudailytimesnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=10010 Corruption Commission lifts lid further on Ao Man Long fraud cases] , Macau Daily Times (15 April 2008)] In addition, the family members and the businessmen allegedly involved were appealing their convictions.

Ao filed a motion before the Court of Appeal to un-freeze some of his personal bank accounts, on the grounds that those accounts were supposedly not linked to the corruption case, and were the actual accounts for receiving his salary. The motion was denied on 26 September 2008: according the verdict of his corruption trial, all his money and personal possessions, even if purchased legally, now belonged to Macau. [ [http://www.macaudailytimesnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=16773&Itemid=28 Ao Man Long denied bank accounts access] , Macau Daily Times (27 September 2008)]

Notes

References

* [http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/ljzg/3566/t17776.htm Information on the major officials and the Procurator-General of the MSAR]
* [http://www.ccac.org.mo/ MSAR Commission Against Corruption]
* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_system_of_Macau Legal system of Macau]
* Jorge Godinho, The Ao Man Long case, in Macau Business, December 2007 [http://home.macau.ctm.net/~jgod/Dec%202007%20Godinho%20-%20Ao%20Man%20Long%20V2.pdf]
* Jorge Godinho, Ao Man Long poderá recorrer do acórdão final?, in Ponto Final, 17 de Dezembro de 2007 [http://home.macau.ctm.net/~jgod/Ao%20Man%20Long%20recurso.pdf] (in Portuguese, arguing that the failure of the Macau SAR to secure an avenue for appeal is a breach of the ICCPR)


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