The mention of the name Cheung Tze-keung struck terror into the heart of a blackmailed businessman as Cheung was "a gangster whom everyone in the business world would be scared of", a court heard yesterday.
Hui Chi-ming, former chairman of a listed company, said he was alarmed on learning that a man who had been extorting money from him was a disciple of Cheung.
He gave up 100 million shares in his company in March 2009 after the blackmailers told him that Wong Chin-yik was a leader of a "big circle gang" and also Cheung's follower, the Court of First Instance heard earlier.
And when Wong demanded a further 100 million shares on April 30 that year, he was at a loss and felt the extortion would never end, Hui said yesterday.
"There are rumours that Cheung has blackmailed and kidnapped many people, including wealthy people," he testified. "People also said he did despicable and cruel things to his abductees." He did not specify what those acts were.
He was testifying at the trial of Wong, 61, Koon Wing-yee, 56, Shum Man-keung, 59, Ng Chi-keung, 71, and Chan Kwai-nam, 62, who are jointly charged with two counts of conspiracy to blackmail and one of theft. Wong also faces a charge of blackmail and one of possessing arms at the time of committing blackmail.
Hui said that after giving up 100 million shares, Koon asked to meet up again at a Tsim Sha Tsui restaurant on April 29, 2009. When he arrived, Koon was there with Wong and 20 other men. Koon reminded him of Wong's background and suggested that he hand over another HK$50 million in two days to "settle the matter". Wong introduced Hui to Shum, describing Shum as "the most terrifying man in the big circle gang, as he does not fear death".
Hui said that Wong called the next day to demand another 100 million shares instead.
"Wong said that if I failed to pay them in two days, they would take me out to the high seas, slash me on the back and throw me to the sharks," Hui told the court.
He did not give in this time, he said, as it seemed the gang could never be satisfied.
On May 10, Wong asked Hui to meet in a hotel room and demanded 300 million shares as he claimed Hui had sought help from two "big brothers".
The trial continues today.