Three mainlanders caught with bogus bank documents purportedly worth more than HK$90 billion during police checks on the Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange (HKMEx) have been jailed for between 2-1/2 and three years.
Dai Linyi, 55, received the heavier sentence as he had played a more important role in the case, Judge Johnny Chan Jong-herng said.
Li Shanrong, 49, and Lian Chunren, 50, were each handed 30 months in prison.
"Hong Kong is an international city with an ideal business environment," the judge said in District Court yesterday.
"The court will not allow fraudsters to use false documents to deceive people."
Dai was also fined HK$2,000 because he overstayed for 16 days. The three were convicted a day earlier on three charges of possessing false instruments.
They were apprehended on May 21 last year - a week after the HKMEx returned its trading licence to the Securities and Futures Commission for failing to meet its financial criteria.
Police moved in on the trio at the InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong in Tsim Sha Tsui after the SFC passed its inquiry on the collapse of the HKMEx to the force.
Dai refused to answer any questions when police conducted a video interview with him. In the run-up to the trial, his lawyer told the court that the forged-documents case had nothing to do with the HKMEx.
But in his court testimony, Dai admitted he had shown HKMEx chairman and former executive councillor Barry Cheung Chun-yuen "proof of funds".
In mitigation, Dai said he had been authorised by a Guangxi state company to solicit investment funds. He said all those documents were used for his work and he had no intention to deceive anyone.
Li and Lian claimed they had acted on Dai's instructions and knew little about the scam.
Chan found the trio had shown no remorse at all and deserved custodial sentences.
He also noted the documents were poor forgeries replete with mistakes such as spelling errors. The judge rejected Dai's argument that the documents were only samples to show clients.
During their arrests, police seized 32 sets of false bank documents, including alleged cheque transactions and proof of funds documents. The face value of each document ranged from HK$2 million to US$460 million.