Company heads jailed for roles in HK$72m fraud
The former chairman and financial controller of China Sciences Conservational Power were jailed for six years yesterday in a case a judge described as a 'Hong Kong story turned sour'.
The former chairman, Hon Ming-kong, 43, and Anthony Chow Ho-tung, 50, received their sentences at the District Court after they were earlier convicted of multiple charges following a trial spanning more than three years. They were also suspended from being company directors for 10 years.
Another defendant who was an employee of a company subsidiary, Kan Lai Lai-kan, 45, was jailed for three years and nine months in the same case. A fourth defendant, impresario Abba Chan Tat-chee, 64, was jailed for three years on Monday after earlier pleading guilty.
Charges including conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to steal, theft, and publishing a false statement had been laid in allegations involving HK$72 million against the three. They were accused of conspiring with Chan and others to steal company funds, and the court was also told of a series of cover-ups.
Each of the three faced a different combination of the charges and pleaded not guilty. With the exception of one count of conspiracy to defraud that was dismissed against Hon, they were convicted of all the charges they faced.
Hon, who moved to Hong Kong when he was 11, had worked as an assistant in a trading company before starting a company and seeing business prosper - which District Judge Stanley Chan Kwong-chi described as a 'successful Hong Kong story'. Chow became a certified public accountant after studying economics, finance and accounting in Britain.
The judge said Hon and Chow climbed up the social ladder through hard work and that the case was 'a kind of Hong Kong story turned sour'. The judge said he considered the two the masterminds who orchestrated the schemes and he accepted there had been no evidence that Kan had derived any financial benefit from the offences.
The offences constituted fraud of a serious kind because of the amount of money and number of fraudulent documents they involved, the judge said.
The three defendants received their sentences in a packed courtroom a day after Chan, was sentenced. Chan, known as 'Uncle Ba', had pleaded guilty prior to the trial.
The allegations against the three defendants jailed yesterday spanned a year in 2004 and 2005 and involved CSCP, China Conservational Power Holdings and other companies.
The charges they faced could be 'the tip of the iceberg', the judge said, noting he could only sentence them on the charges of which they had been convicted.
The marathon trial started in April 2008 and lasted 120 court hearing days spread over 38 months. The judge said the trial had been unusual for its length and because two judicial reviews had been taken out during it, a number of senior counsel had been involved, and the defendants had applied for witnesses to testify in the mainland.
The judge said he detected no sense of remorse from the three defendants yesterday.
Chan admitted six charges including money laundering, conspiracy to steal, theft and conspiracy to defraud involving a total of HK$63 million in 2006.
His sentencing had been adjourned pending the verdict in the trial of the three other defendants.
The amount in Hong Kong dollars Chan, Hon and Chow caused to be drawn falsely on accounts of China Sciences or China Conservational