'Author of dishonesty' guilty in share fraud
High-profile businesswoman Lily Chiang Lai-lei was yesterday found guilty of shares fraud after a judge called her an 'author of dishonesty' and the mastermind of a HK$3.7 million scam.
After a 62-day trial, the former chairwoman of the General Chamber of Commerce was convicted on one count of fraud, one of conspiracy to defraud and one of authorising the issue of a prospectus that included an untrue statement in a series of actions seven years ago.
In a verdict which took three days to deliver, District Court Judge Albert Wong Sung-hau said: 'In all circumstances, [Chiang] must be the mastermind of the illicit scheme.' This was the 'only irresistible inference' he could draw, Wong said.
Two co-defendants were found guilty. Tahir Hussain Shah, 45, was convicted of conspiracy to defraud, and Pau Kwok-ping, 54, was convicted of fraud and issuing a prospectus that included an untrue statement. The three were remanded in custody for sentencing on Wednesday.
The court heard that Chiang, daughter of a prominent industrialist, designed a scam in which others held options or shares in two listed companies on her behalf, contrary to listing rules. The share options were said to have been granted as rewards to senior officers at Chiang's companies but the recipients were in fact low-ranking staff, including Chiang's driver and her personal assistant.
Wong relied heavily on the evidence of Iris Yip Yuk-chun, Chiang's personal assistant and a key prosecution witness who was granted immunity to testify. Yesterday, the judge found that Yip was a conspirator in Chiang's scheme.
Prosecutor Simon Westbrook SC, asked the judge to exercise his power to disqualify Chiang from being a company director for up to 10 years, a punishment under the Companies Ordinance. Westbrook submitted a company registry record which showed that Chiang was currently a director of 17 companies.
The request appeared to perturb Chiang, who looked to the judge attentively when Westbrook made the application.
Chiang's sister, Ann Chiang Lai-wan, a vice-chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said outside court that the family did not expect the guilty verdict.
When asked whether they would lodge an appeal, she said: 'I don't want to talk too much. We need to prepare ourselves for a lot of things.'
'No matter what, I will support her. It's because of love. Lily is my sister,' she said.
The judge will hear mitigation submissions today.