Sun Hung Kai Properties

Lee Shau-kee denies wrongdoings

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 March, 2008, 12:00am

Property tycoon Lee Shau-kee admitted yesterday that his extended family, including his mainland-based younger brother Li Zhaonan, had invested in companies listed there. But he said the stakes were small and the shares had been bought cheaply many years ago.

Mr Lee was responding to a newspaper report that his brother had 200 million A shares in Ping An Insurance - worth 14.04 billion yuan (HK$15.39 billion) at yesterday's closing price on the Shanghai stock exchange. The report, in Ming Pao Daily, said Mr Li had acknowledged his money came from Mr Lee.

But Mr Lee, the Henderson Land chairman, denied there was any connection between Mr Li's investments and anything the family was doing. His brother was not involved in any of his companies' projects on the mainland, he said.

Mr Lee refused to disclose details of his family's investment on the mainland. But he said Henderson Land had disclosed everything required by law or relevant regulations.

The Ming Pao report said Mr Lee had used his younger brother's identity to circumvent mainland rules restricting non-mainlanders to holding minority stakes in Sino-foreign ventures.

Hong Kong and China Gas, part of Mr Lee's business empire, holds 49 per cent stakes in four such ventures, and Ming Pao reported Mr Li held 1 per cent in each of them, taking the family's holding to 50 per cent.

Mr Lee, Hong Kong's third richest man according to Forbes Asia, said: 'My family had some extra money, so we invest. But I don't ask them about it because it is my family's investment. I don't know what they are doing now.

He added: 'Don't ask about my family, since I would not ask about yours.'

At an earlier media briefing, Mr Lee said: 'The family owns A shares in Ping An. They are very little. Ask Lee Shau-lam whether he wants to sell. Don't ask me.'

Mr Li is also known as Lee Shau-lam.

Mr Li was ranked the 34th richest person on the mainland last year by the Hurun Report, which estimated his wealth at 16 billion yuan. In 2006, when he was ranked 40th, he was said to be worth only 4 billion yuan. The value of Ping An A shares surged last year.