Raided firms get chance to respond
HONG Kong companies and their directors mentioned adversely in a confidential report by a government-appointed inspector, whose findings triggered a series of police raids, will be given three weeks to respond and justify their conduct.
In the confidential draft report comprising 25 chapters and more than 600 pages, a team of investigative accountants profiled several key companies and examined transactions conducted between 1990 and last year.
The transactions, which pivoted around Tomson Pacific and the World Trade Centre Group, led to an inquiry ordered by the Financial Secretary in August last year, and sparked off Tuesday's raids and searches of about 40 homes and businesses by more than 200 Commercial Crime Bureau (CCB) officers.
Sources said that in a summary at the end of each chapter and in an overall summary, the accounting sleuth appointed as official inspector, John Lees, detailed areas of concern.
As the finishing touches are put to the draft report, a separate team of accountants and CCB officers has begun analysing seized documents in a search for evidence of criminality.
Search warrants executed by police during the raids on Tomson Pacific and other companies indicated the nature of the offences suspected to have been committed.
The warrants referred to a search for any information of a conspiracy to defraud, as well as undefined offences under the Theft Ordinance, police and legal sources said.
Many of the companies and individuals investigated and interviewed by Mr Lees, who was supported by more than 20 accountants in the early stages of the probe, will next week receive confidential extracts of the draft report.
By next Wednesday most of the parties involved in the inquiry should know the precise nature of Mr Lees' findings and how it related to their business conduct, sources said.
The parties include the seven companies raided: Tomson Pacific, World Trade Centre Group, Rivera (Holdings), Shun Tak Holdings, Far East Holding International, Far East Consortium International and Tse Sui Luen Jewellery International.