Entrepreneur received demand for HK$1m 'to protect his children from gangsters'
A mainlander demanded HK$1.02 million to protect the family of a local entrepreneur from gangsters he said had been paid to attack his children, a court heard yesterday.
The demand was delivered in a letter to the tycoon, who was identified in court only as Mr X, by Zou Jinyu, who admitted in the District Court yesterday that he made up the story to swindle money.
Zou, 29, was caught on March 15 in a police sting near the entrepreneur's office in Sheung Wan, where he met undercover agents posing as company staff. He pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to obtain money by deception and denied a charge of blackmail, which the prosecution decided to drop.
Defence barrister Jackson Poon said Zou was inspired by Hong Kong action movies and committed the offence out of greed and naivety.
'Zou apologises to [the tycoon],' he said.
Prosecutor William Tam Yiu-ho told the court that the entrepreneur received the letter - posted to his residence from Guangdong and signed by Cheung Chun-hoi, a fake name used by Zou - on February 5. A telephone number was enclosed.
The letter read: 'I am aware someone has offered a large sum of money to do harm to one or two of your children. It may well be that you have offended somebody in your business ... The fact is someone is paying to get the limbs of either your son or eldest daughter.
'You may not believe it, but it pays to be cautious since you have lots of influence in the community. You see, you are in the open whereas the sniper is in the dark.
'No matter how good your bodyguards are in doing their job to protect you, it's difficult for you to escape the shot of a professional sniper.'
The tycoon reported the matter, and on February 8 and 9, his wife telephoned Zou with police present. He told her that Hunan gangsters had been paid by several Taiwanese to harm her family members.
Zou said the gang was active in Shenzhen and dealt in arms. However, he did not know which of her children were targeted.
Three police officers posing as staff of the entrepreneur later contacted Zou, who further claimed that gangsters targeting his eldest daughter would be visiting Hong Kong at Lunar New Year. He demanded HK$10,000 to socialise with the gang.
On February 13, Zou told an undercover agent over the telephone that the gang wanted HK$1 million to settle the matter, and the money could be deposited into his account. The undercover agent set up the meeting at the tycoon's office.
When Zou showed up, he said that he learned of the plan when he found a paper bag in a restaurant containing information and photographs of the tycoon and his family. He asked for HK$20,000 as reimbursement for his expenses.
After the discussion, he was led to a nearby car park, where he was arrested. He then admitted to police that he had fabricated the story after obtaining the entrepreneur's address from a mainland website.
Judge Susana D'Almada Remedios will sentence Zou today.