Defence case put at Lau hearing

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 March, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 March, 1999, 12:00am


Insider dealing accusations hurled at Chinese Estates boss Joseph Lau Luen-hung were vigorously rebutted yesterday, with his lawyers asserting that the $3.64 billion Entertainment Building sale was 'not price-sensitive'.

A two-month inquiry had failed to prove otherwise, barrister John Griffiths, SC, argued.

Chinese Estates' share price rose only 0.5 per cent on the day the $3.64 billion sale was formally announced to the market and fell consistently for the next three days.

Moreover, experts told the inquiry that the November 1996 purchase of the building by Hysan Development was achieved at the going market price, Mr Griffiths stressed.

'There's no evidence that the sale was other than at market value,' he told the hearing.

Assertions of rumours leaking into the market the day before the sale - when Chinese Estates shares rose - were hotly denied by Mr Griffiths.

Even a rumour in part of the market would not prove 'beyond a reasonable doubt it moved the share price upwards', he said.

The tribunal must be 'rationally driven to the conclusion that the sale of the Entertainment Building was not price-sensitive,' Mr Griffiths contended.

Mr Lau's fate - along with his co-accused Johnson Lam Yee-ming - is expected to be handed over to the three-member tribunal chaired by Mr Justice Michael Hartmann today.

The judge told the tribunal he hoped a report on the alleged insider dealing could be finished in early May.