COURTS

Businessman Lew Mon-hung set to deny all swindling charges

Prominent businessman stands accused of money-laundering and conspiracy to defraud

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 December, 2013, 5:04am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 December, 2013, 7:52am

Businessman Lew Mon-hung, a former prominent supporter of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, has indicated he will deny all charges when he faces trial in the Court of First Instance over accusations that he defrauded the stock exchange.

Prosecutors yesterday laid a money-laundering charge against Lew on top of an existing charge of attempting to defraud investors over plans by Pearl Oriental Oil, where he was deputy chairman and executive director, to acquire natural gas and oil fields in Utah, United States, between 2009 and 2011.

Pearl published an announcement and circular through the stock exchange to seek shareholders' approval for its plan to buy back its entire share capital and reissue the shares to raise money for the acquisition of the oil and gas fields.

Lew, 64, is charged along with the company's chairman Wong Yuk-kwan, 65; its deputy financial officer and administrative manager Kitty Yip Sui-kuen, 44, and merchant Yik Siu-hung, also 44, with making a false representation to the stock exchange.

The prosecution yesterday added eight money-laundering charges - one against Lew and seven against Wong. Lew is accused of illegally dealing in almost HK$170 million worth of shares in Pearl Oriental Oil in May 2011. The firm has since changed its name to Pearl Oriental Innovation.

Wong is accused of laundering HK$200 million and HK$688 million in shares between 2010 and 2011.

The four together face 15 charges, including conspiracy to defraud and money laundering.

Yik faces three money-laundering charges relating to two properties worth HK$390 million and HK$282.6 million of the company's shares, dated between March 2010 and May 2011. Yip faces one charge of laundering HK$3 million on January 26 and 27, 2011. They all indicated they would deny the charges.

Magistrate David Chum Yau-fong transferred the case to the Court of First Instance to fix a trial date. He extended bail to all four defendants, but ordered them to appear at pre-trial hearings.

Leaving the court building yesterday, Lew had some remarks for the media.

"According to mathematical equations, zero plus zero plus zero is equal to zero. In other words, a trumped-up charge, plus a trumped-up charge, plus another trumped-up charge equals a trumped-up charge," he said.

He quoted a line from popular Cantonese song Real Man to sum up his feelings on the year. "Standing upright on one's two legs between heaven and earth, a real man has indomitable spirit in his heart and will never bow," he said. Lew was a prominent supporter of the chief executive's election campaign, but fell out with Leung and accused him of breaking his promise to appoint him as a government adviser.