A cousin of Bank of East Asia chairman David Li Kwok-po was convicted of fraud yesterday for scheming to get a former girlfriend and her mother to put millions of dollars in a bogus investment company.
Keefe Chong Ka-hai, 42, was found guilty in the District Court of two counts each of fraud and evading liability by deception.
Accomplice Benson Ho Kar-lun, 43, was convicted of two counts of fraud and Paul Wan Kwong-chuen, 44, who claimed to be Ho's assistant, was found guilty of money laundering.
Chong was found to have schemed with Ho to get his former girlfriend and her mother to put money in a bogus investment firm purportedly run by Ho. The court earlier heard that mother and daughter had provided HK$10 million.
Chong dated Lee Yuet-wah, 47, from 1997 to 1999 when she was a flight attendant for British Airways. They lost contact, but years later Chong got back in touch. He became the sworn son of Lee's mother and introduced Lee to Ho. Lee and Ho dated.
Ho, with Chong's support, claimed to have connections with property agency Century 21 and to be an investor in securities, futures and real estate. Together, they convinced mother and daughter to give them money to invest. They went as far as taking them on trips to Bangkok, Los Angeles and Las Vegas to sweeten the arrangement.
In April 2007, when Lee was planning to sell a flat in Royal Ascot, Fo Tan, to help pay for another apartment on Conduit Road, Mid-Levels, Chong and Ho persuaded her and her mother to invest the proceeds of the sale in Ho's company.
The defendants had pleaded not guilty to the charges and were convicted after a trial.
"These were crimes where active deceit was employed," Judge Garry Tallentire said in handing down his verdict. "The deceit was that the money was invested in a company which did not exist."
Tallentire said there was evidence that Ho was a gambler and he believed that at least some of the money was lost in this way. "You needed money to gamble and for your high lifestyle," he said.
The judge said Lee's mother had requested receipts for the deposits that she and her daughter had made but never got them, and there were no accounts showing how the money was invested. Ho did not supply a business card or divulge the address of his supposed firm.
The case was adjourned to Thursday for lawyers to enter pleas for mitigation.
A fourth defendant, transport worker Cheng Chun-tat, 35, was freed after a charge of money laundering against him was dismissed.