Blackmail case defendant 'couldn't afford' shares, prosecutor tells court

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 March, 2014, 3:01am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 March, 2014, 4:26am

A blackmail defendant could not possibly have bought HK$200 million worth of shares in the listed company chaired by his alleged victim as he did not have the money, the High Court heard yesterday.

Cross-examining defendant Koon Wing-yee, 57, prosecutor Audrey Campbell-Moffat SC said financial documents from 2009 showed that Koon's personal assets at the time were less than HK$20 million.

The documents were obtained in a civil action against Koon by Hui Chi-ming, former chairman of Sino Union Petroleum and Chemical International (Sunpec), the man he is accused of blackmailing.

Koon had previously told the court that far from blackmailing Hui, he had agreed to buy shares in Sunpec in December 2007 after Hui promised him an extra 250 million shares if he bought HK$200 million worth. Koon said Hui had gone back on his word two years later.

Under cross-examination, Koon admitted his personal assets were limited, but said: "My family is very well off."

Koon said his family received HK$72 million in rent each year from properties they owned.

Campbell-Moffat said the records showed Koon could only have afforded to buy one or two million Sunpec shares before December 2007.

He bought 15.9 million shares for between HK$1.40 and HK$1.60 on December 17 and 18. He sold 10 million for HK$1.70 on December 19, after the company announced a HK$4.4 billion profit.

Koon earlier said that Hui had approached him after the sale of the shares to suggest the deal for free shares.

Koon yesterday refuted any suggestion that he was an aggressive investor who was cashing in quickly.

He said he had made a small investment at first to test the market, and had held on to the rest of the shares as part of his deal with Hui.

Koon, former chairman of Easyknit Group, is charged along with Ng Chi-keung, 71, Wong Chin-yik, 61, Shum Man-keung, 59, and Chan Kwai-nam, 62, with two counts of conspiracy to blackmail and one of theft.

Wong also faces a charge of blackmail and one of possessing arms while committing blackmail.

The trial continues today.