Businessman hits wall over brother's Swiss account transfer

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 June, 2013, 3:34am

A Hong Kong businessman who said his brother moved his money out of his bank account without permission 17 years ago feels he is not getting anywhere with the local police.

He has failed to get his money back, he says, despite the younger brother having admitted transferring the funds during a court case in Liechtenstein.

The businessman, who declined to disclose his name, said the brother used his identity over the phone in Hong Kong to move US$175,000 from his Swiss bank account to a local account of the family's trading firm in 1996.

His brothers later took up a civil case against him in Liechtenstein, accusing him of taking money from the family business to put into his foundation there. During the trial, a brother admitted transferring US$175,000 from the Swiss account.

The admission was recorded in the court's documents and the businessman saw it as strong evidence to prove that it was theft.

"It is in black and white. I have clear-cut evidence, beyond a shadow of a doubt," he said. "But they still do not pursue the issue."

But according to a court transcript, his brother had told the Liechtenstein court that he had not pretended to be the businessman and had informed the businessman about the transfer.

Over the 17 years, the man had been pressing the local police to act against the brother who moved the money.

In countless exchanges of letters with the police, officers had repeatedly told him there was not enough evidence to pursue the case. He was also not satisfied with the police's handling of his case. Some of the officers had misunderstood some of the case details, he said.

The businessman said police had been telling the media that they faced difficulties in pursuing overseas cases because of limited jurisdiction. In fact the police considered his case as a family dispute and wanted them to settle it among themselves, he said.

"They do not want to make the effort for me because they do not want to spend the money for me to uphold the law," he said.

Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung, however, said Liechtenstein's legal system was not common law, but civil law. He said documents signed in the country may not be recognised by Hong Kong courts.

"Some documents seemed to be accepted by a particular country would not be accepted in Hong Kong," he said. Even if the document was signed in a common law jurisdiction, it did not guarantee that they would be accepted in the city.

A police spokesman said the case was not pursued further because no crime was disclosed. He said the victim was welcome to approach police if he had additional information.