Former Leung Chun-ying adviser Barry Cheung asks Hong Kong court for more time before plea on fraud charges
Ex-URA head accused of misleading Securities and Futures Commission about finances of his commodities exchange, so it could keep licence
A former adviser to Hong Kong’s ex-chief executive Leung Chun-ying asked a court for more time on Thursday so he could decide whether to plead guilty to defrauding the city’s finance watchdog and cheating a firm of HK$30 million.
Lawyers for Barry Cheung Chun-yuen, a former member of the Executive Council, which advises the city’s leader on policy, said their client was not ready to plead because of the little time they were given to look at the complex case.
Asking for a three-month adjournment at the District Court, Cheung’s solicitor Christopher Morley said: “The reason is this: the defendant was only arrested, and charged, and brought up at Eastern Court on August 10.”
He said the case came from an investigation that lasted four years and involved 42 witnesses, 16,000 pages of documents and another 1,300 pieces of other material, which he and his colleagues would have to go through.
Judge David Dufton granted the request, to which prosecutors did not object, and adjourned the case to November 28.
He said he would extend Cheung’s bail, for which the former head of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) paid a HK$50,000 cash bond and promised not to leave Hong Kong.
Cheung nodded in the dock, along with his co-defendant Jacky Choi Tat-ying, when they heard their bail would be granted.
The former adviser resigned from all his public positions – including executive councillor and URA head – in May 2013 after police questioned him during their investigation into his failed company, the Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange.
Cheung, 59, and Choi, 48, face a joint charge of conspiracy to defraud. Choi is the commodities trading platform’s former chief financial officer.
Prosecutors alleged the duo conspired to hide the exchange’s true financial position, to mislead the Securities and Futures Commission into letting it keep its licence to provide automated trading services in Hong Kong.
In the other fraud charge he faces alone, Cheung is accused of cheating a company named Sinomax Finance out of HK$30 million to the benefit of New Effort Holdings, a British Virgin Islands-based firm wholly owned by Cheung, which was the majority shareholder in the exchange.