Hong Kong woman who denies luxury goods scam says she lost cash too

Housewife accused, along with her policeman husband and her former business partner, of swindling investors

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 August, 2017, 3:35pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 August, 2017, 3:35pm

A housewife on trial with her policeman husband over a HK$20 million investment scam reselling Rolex watches and Hermes handbags told a court on Tuesday that she lost money too, while she denied running the swindle.

Prosecutors claimed Chu Hoi-yan, 36, and her husband Kevin Au Yeung Hak-man, 39, used high profits to lure investors into buying luxury items which they would then resell, while Lee Yuk-fung, 44, helped with the selling.

But the trio allegedly did not always share the profits with their investors, as had been promised.

Taking the stand for the first day at the District Court, Chu said she had helped mainland shoppers buy iPhones and iPads, as well as Chanel and Hermes handbags, in Hong Kong and Tokyo since 2010.

She bought the luxury items at discounted prices, and sold them on for up to five times what she paid. The profits were then shared among investors who helped funded the purchases.

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But that changed when she joined Lee’s operation, reselling luxury watches made by Rolex and Cartier, among others, the court heard.

The two women had been running separate reselling businesses. Chu’s focused on iPads and bags, while Lee’s focused on watches. Then Lee invited Chu to join hers, but said she did not have enough money to buy the watches so she asked Chu to help. Chu asked her investors to chip in for the deal.

She told Deputy District Judge Amy Chan Wai-mun that of the about 40 times she and Lee worked together, there were around six occasions where she got no profit, and another five when she did not recoup her initial investment.

“She said the customers had yet to pay,” Chu said.

Other investors included her relatives, her husband’s colleagues and parents of her daughter’s classmates.

Chu pleaded not guilty to eight counts of fraud and four of money laundering, while her husband denied two counts of money laundering.

Lee also pleaded not guilty to two counts of money laundering plus an additional conspiracy charge.

The trial continues.