Oxford founder faces $1m probe bill

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 December, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 December, 2001, 12:00am

The founder and former chairman of mainboard-listed Oxford Properties & Finance has been ordered to pay HK$1.16 million to the Government to cover the cost of an investigation into the ownership of the company's shares.

The office of the Financial Secretary yesterday directed James Lee to cover the Government's expenses in the case.

The investigation found that Mr Lee indirectly owns 90 per cent of the shares in Oxford Properties & Finance, putting the company in breach of public float requirements.

'The inspector is of the view that James Lee appears to have breached the disclosure requirement and that Oxford appears to have breached the minimum public float requirement under the listing rule of Stock Exchange of Hong Kong,' the report said.

The Government appointed an inspector in April last year after receiving a petition from a group of the firm's minority shareholders, who alleged Oxford had breached the 25 per cent minimum public float requirement. The investigation found the major shareholders of Oxford were 11 companies, which together held nearly 90 per cent of its total issued share capital.

Further investigations found that Mr Lee controlled or owned all 11 companies, and so was the true owner of a 90 per cent stake in Oxford.

In a statement yesterday, the stock exchange said it would require the company to restore the 25 per cent minimum public float within a month, meaning Mr Lee must dispose of 15 per cent of his holdings in the company - down to 75 per cent from 90 per cent - in that time.

The exchange said it would study the findings of the report to see if there was any breach of listing rules.