Theft case figure soars to HK$780m

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 October, 2011, 12:00am

Share

Prosecutors have increased almost 50-fold - from HK$16.6 million to HK$780 million - the amount they say was lost by victims in a case involving a former partner of the international law firm K&L Gates.

Prosecutors unveiled the massive new figure as Navin Kumar Aggarwal, 44, appeared for a short hearing yesterday on the case in which he faces three counts of theft and three counts of forgery.

Aggarwal was initially accused of stealing about HK$16.6 million from his former law firm between January 13 and July 21 last year.

But senior court prosecutor Cindy Wong Tsz-fong said the sum was now 'much higher ... because more victims have been found'.

In court, Wong said the alleged victims now numbered 22, including residents both in Hong Kong and overseas, and, in an apparent mistake, that the amount stolen from them totalled HK$7.8 billion.

Aggarwal's lawyer, Kevin Hon, said Wong probably meant '0.78 billion', or HK$780 million, a figure that Wong later confirmed outside court.

Wong asked the court for more time to allow authorities to obtain information from the new victims that had been found. Hon raised no objection.

Acting Principal Magistrate Gary Lam Kar-yan agreed to adjourn the case to December 12, but asked Wong to tell police to speed up the process.

The original charges cited three transfers from the law firm worth between HK$3.6 million and HK$8 million. Prosecutors say Aggarwal falsified authorisation letters to appear like they were issued by RIM China and have the company's money held with the law firm sent to Wynn International Marketing.

Also, the magistrate informed Wong and Hon during yesterday's hearing that he had been a colleague of Aggarwal's more than 10 years ago, but gave not further details about their shared employment. Neither lawyer raised an objection to the magistrate hearing the case.

2,000

Number of lawyers worldwide employed by the Pittsburgh-based K&L Gates. It recently added partners in Hong Kong and Shanghai