Mainland man who allegedly stole HK$17m worth of jewellery arrested

Mainland man said to have borrowed goods for a trade show and failed to pay lenders

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 December, 2012, 3:26am

A mainland jewellery trader was arrested on Wednesday night as he tried to cross the border after allegedly borrowing HK$17 million in valuables from fellow traders in Hong Kong.

John Yan, 30, was arrested at Lok Ma Chau after more than 30 traders told police he had not returned goods or money from jewellery he borrowed for an international exhibition last week.

Police said he had established trust with the traders through earlier dealings.

Yan, a two-way permit holder, was yesterday escorted back to his company, Diamond City, in Hung Hom Commercial Centre, where detectives seized some exhibits. Police had earlier retrieved jewellery valued at HK$4 million from his home and said they would continue looking for the remaining goods.

Police said he had borrowed the jewellery and diamonds from traders late last month to take part in the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai.

Chung Chi-ming, acting superintendent from Kowloon City district crime squad, said Yan set up the one-man company two years ago.

"After multiple instances of co-operation, he had established a relationship and trust with some jewellers," he said.

No charges had been laid last night.

Ishai Bettan, owner of the Hong Kong office of Israeli-based manufacturer Asteria Diamonds, said Yan, who had traded once with him before, had borrowed 25 diamond items valued at US$300,000 and never returned them, although a contract was signed.

"It is a shame as many companies are trying to do normal business here," Bettan said.

He said the industry would have a hard time during Christmas because traders would stop lending goods, pushing up the price of diamonds.

An officer said it was the industry's practice for some small-scale companies to lend jewellery to others, trying to find better buyers, adding that Diamond City's décor was "rather posh" and looked bigger than it was.

Ricky Lam Chi-keung, chairman of the Hong Kong Jewellery Manufacturers' Association, which organised the show, said traders should verify the track records of potential partners before trading with them.