Arson probe at George Tan home
Detectives are investigating two pre-dawn arson cases in eight days in which two stolen vehicles were set alight outside the luxury residence of disgraced tycoon George Tan Soon-gin in Tseung Kwan O.
The latest happened at about 3am yesterday when a delivery van was driven into a path off Clear Water Bay Road before stopping outside the main gate of the fence surrounding Tan's mansion.
A barking dog alerted a male helper from the mansion who went to check the closed-circuit television system, police said. 'Through a surveillance camera, a man was seen jumping out from the goods van,' a police officer said. 'It quickly burst into flames when the man threw something into the vehicle. The helper then called police.'
The suspect escaped before police arrived. Firefighters put out the blaze and no one was injured.
On December 27, a car was found on fire outside the gate.
As the two vehicles had been reported stolen, a detective said the incidents appeared to be linked and premeditated. 'The two arson cases are probably a warning to someone in the mansion,' the officer said.
Police refused to say yesterday if Tan was in the mansion at the time of the arson attacks.
Tan is the former head of the failed Carrian Group property empire. He was jailed for three years in 1996 after admitting a conspiracy involving US$238 million in secret loans he obtained from Malaysia's Bank Bumiputra. Last year, he was involved in legal disputes with another disgraced tycoon, Rogerio Lam Sou-fung, son of the late Hang Seng Bank founder Lam Bing-yim.
The Court of First Instance ruled in May that Lam was the owner of five antiques from the Song and Qing dynasties, which he lent to Tan around 1982. Tan was ordered to pay to Lam the proceeds of the sale of three of the antiques - auctioned in 2005 for HK$115 million, HK$3.2 million and HK$5.7 million.
Five months later, Lam asked the High Court to declare Tan bankrupt after Tan failed to repay the debts.
Lam was convicted in 2002 of a multimillion-dollar bank fraud and was jailed for 20 months and barred from being a company director for five years.
The amount, in US dollars, Rogerio Lam was convicted of trying to obtain by using a bogus bank guarantee in 2002