Secretary faces HK$42m fraud charges

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 March, 2014, 4:32am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 March, 2014, 4:32am

A secretary who allegedly stole more than HK$42 million from Balram Chainrai, the former owner of English soccer club Portsmouth, appeared in Eastern Court yesterday.

Tong Sze-kiu, 40, is charged with using Chainrai's name to apply for credit cards, which she then allegedly used to pay for items she bought. Tong, who claimed to be unemployed now, entered no plea to 10 charges of theft and nine counts of fraud.

Magistrate Bina Chainrai adjourned the case to May 16 to allow the prosecution time to obtain bank documents for further enquiry and to seek legal advice. The magistrate is the sister of the alleged victim, but she told the court there was no objection to her hearing the case.

The charges allege that Tong, then Balram Chainrai's secretary, used his name to apply for credit cards from four different banks. She is accused of using those cards for her own payments.

She is also accused of falsely using 55 cheques which were signed in Chainrai's name to withdraw over HK$11.9 million from Chainrai's bank accounts.

Tong is also alleged to have made false representation to some investment companies to sell shares from Chainrai's accounts and transferred the money to accounts that resulted in benefit to her. All the alleged offences took place between January 2002 and April 2010.

Chainrai runs a successful consumer electronics group and has business interests in Britain, including a property investment firm. He briefly owned Premier League club Portsmouth before it went into administration in February 2010. He tried to buy the club again in 2012 but withdrew the bid in August last year.