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IPIM gets acting chief

Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac has appointed Irene Lau Kuan Va, an executive director of the Macau Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM), as the institute’s acting president.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:50 am

Secretary for Economy and Finance Lionel Leong Vai Tac has appointed Irene Lau Kuan Va, an executive director of the Macau Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM), as the institute’s acting president, his office said in a statement Monday.

The appointment came after the institute’s president, Jackson Chang, was suspended from his post in the wake of a criminal investigation by the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) and Public Prosecution Office for alleged work-related crimes.

The Commission Against Corruption said in a statement last Friday that upon completion of an investigation by the anti-graft body, the president of the board of directors of the Macau Trade and Investment Promotion Institute, a member of its executive committee and a former official at the institute’s Residency Application and Legal Affairs Division –who is now working as the chief of a department of the government’s Pension Fund (FP) – were transferred to the Judiciary – understood to refer to the Public Prosecution Office – last Thursday for alleged work-related crimes.

A number of compulsory measures have been imposed on the three suspects, including suspension from holding office in the public administration and prohibited from leaving Macau.

The CCAC did not name the three suspects.

The president of the board of directors of the institute is informally known as IPIM president. Members of the institute’s executive committee are also known as IPIM executive directors.

The institute’s board of directors consists of a president and four executive directors or non-executive directors.

The institute’s president, Jackson Chang, is also known as Cheong Chou Weng.

The institute is a public entity overseen by the Secretariat for Economy and Finance.

Concerning the other two suspects, local media outlets have identified them as Gloria Batalha Ung – an executive director of the institute, and Ian Iat Chun – who until his suspension last week headed the Retirement Department of the Pension Fund. Ian was appointed to the post at the fund in 2012.

Ung was appointed as an IPIM executive director in 2015.

Leong appointed Ung in April this year as a deputy secretary-general of the Permanent Secretariat of the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries (PSCs), effective from May 1, succeeding Echo Chan Keng Hou who resigned for personal reasons. The appointment means that Ung until her suspension concurrently held the posts of an IPIM executive director and a deputy secretary-general in the forum’s permanent secretariat.

According to Monday’s statement from the Secretariat for Economy and Finance (GSEF), the policy secretary has appointed Casimiro de Jesus Pinto, an advisor to his office, as a deputy secretary-general of the Permanent Secretariat of the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries on a temporarily basis.

The government has temporarily appointed Jesus Pinto as a deputy secretary-general in the forum’s permanent secretariat apparently in the wake of Ung having been suspended from office in the public administration by the Public Prosecution Office for alleged work-related crimes.

Jesus Pinto was a well-known singer in his youth and later qualified as a translator and interpreter for the Portuguese and Chinese languages. He ran unsuccessfully in the direct Legislative Assembly elections in 2009.

The Permanent Secretariat of the Forum for Economic and Trade Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries is headed by a secretary-general appointed by the central government. It has three deputy secretary-generals, one of each appointed by the central government, the PSCs and the Macau government respectively.

According to the Official Gazette (BO), Lau was appointed as an IPIM executive director in 2010.

According to the CCAC, the three suspects allegedly committed the work-related crimes during the process of application approvals for the institute’s three temporary residency schemes – “property investment immigration”, “major investment immigration” and “specialist immigration”. The third scheme is for managerial personnel, specialists and professional qualification holders hired by local employers.

In 2007, the institute suspended its “property investment immigration” scheme, the implementation of which has never been resumed.

In a hard-hitting investigative report released in early July, the Commission Against Corruption slammed the Macau Trade and Investment Promotion Institute for having failed to properly assess applications for temporary residency granted by IPIM officials through its “major investment immigration” and “specialist immigration” schemes.

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:50 am

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