Officers raid villa project offices and staff homes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 May, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 May, 2003, 12:00am

Commercial Crime Bureau officers yesterday raided five offices of the failed Villa Pinada luxury housing project and the homes of three senior staff members, police said.

No arrests were made, but officers took piles of documents from the raided premises.

The bureau launched an investigation following complaints that Villa Pinada, developed by True Gold Investments, had failed to repay about $200 million in syndicated loans to a group led by the Bank of China.

The bank subsequently appointed Ernst & Young as receiver for the developer, which had sold 205 flats worth $556 million. But Ernst & Young said it had recovered only $2.9 million of the total amount.

More than 200 homebuyers feared they would not be able to get their luxury Tuen Mun flats or their money back.

However, Ernst & Young assured them they would eventually get their flats at the project so long as they had paid in full or secured sufficient mortgage.

Officers swooped on the eight premises, including one in Yuen Long and another in Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, yesterday.

A police source said they had seized documents that they believe could assist with the investigation.

He said arrests were unlikely to be made in the next few days, but that they hoped to question some senior staff members soon.

Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Michael Suen Ming-yeung said the investigation would focus on finding out where the money generated from the sales of the flats had gone.

'We hope the documents can show us where the money went and who may be responsible,' the police source said.

Buyers' representatives have held talks with government lawyers who are trying to establish the legal rights and responsibilities of the different parties.