Three mainlanders found with bogus bank instruments with a face value of more than HK$90 billion during the police investigation of the failed Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange were convicted yesterday of possessing forged documents.
District Court Judge Johnny Chan Jong-herng told businessmen Dai Linyi, 55, Li Shanrong, 49, and Lian Chunren, 50, they were fraudsters.
"Only fraudsters would keep all those bogus documents," Chan said, convicting them on three charges that they had denied.
Chan rejected Dai's argument that the documents were only samples to show clients.
He said Dai, who claimed he worked in the finance business, should have known the items were forgeries but still kept them.
"The only inference I could draw is that Dai would want to use the documents for illegal purposes," he said, while also finding that Li and Lian knew the documents were not real.
Chan said the documents, seized from the trio's hotel rooms on May 21 last year, had false bank account numbers, false signatures and false bank stamps.
Some were presented as proof of funds but bank staff had testified that banks in Hong Kong did not issue such documents to clients, the judge noted, adding that the papers had many defects.
Some bore a company's name and chop but the chop had misspelt "investment company" as "invetment company".
The judge said such documents, with a face value of up to US$460 million, would not have been dealt with in such a reckless way.
He adjourned mitigation and sentencing until today.
The court was told the trio were arrested in an operation at the InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Police first found Dai in the hotel's business centre with documents showing US$560 million in a cheque transaction and proof of funds.
More documents covering amounts totalling more than US$11 billion in the names of Lian and some companies were found in a search of Li and Lian's room. A total of 32 bogus documents were found in the operation.
Dai claimed the documents had been given to him by others for financing matters.
He admitted he met HKMEx chairman and former executive councillor Barry Cheung Chun-yuen and showed him a purported proof of funds.
But he claimed the document was given to him by a Dr Wu who, he said, wanted Cheung to issue him a cheque for US$600,000.
Dai claimed he told Cheung the "proof of funds" could not be used and warned him not to issue the cheque to Wu.
Dai pleaded guilty before the trial to one count of overstaying, for which Chan adjourned sentencing until the end of the trial.