Shanghai Merchants Holdings was stripped of US$4.5 million while Chau Ching-ngai's wife was at the helm about two months ago, it was revealed yesterday. The locally listed company, chaired by Chau's wife and business partner Mo Yuk-ping, was part of Chau's short-lived business empire in Hong Kong until it went into receivership two weeks ago. Receivers Alan Tang Chung-wah and Alison Wong Lee Fung-ying, of Grant Thornton, yesterday said US$4.5 million had been taken from one of the company's bank accounts on or about May 21 'with no apparent justification'. The funds were paid into the Hong Kong bank account of a company called Great Center, they said in an announcement yesterday, adding an investigation would be carried out into whether Great Center was related to any person connected with Shanghai Merchants. The withdrawal came before Chau's detention in the mainland was officially confirmed on June 4 and Mo's arrest on June 2. Chau and Mo are not directors of Great Center, based on a check of Hong Kong's Companies Registry. Mo is the main suspect in a conspiracy to defraud case being investigated by the Independent Commission Against Corruption which involves 26 other people. A former BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) official and several Shanghai Merchants executives were also arrested. All the suspects have been released on bail. Mr Tang said yesterday that court action had just started aimed at recouping the US$4.5 million, as well as the legal costs involved. In addition, an injunction was obtained by the receivers restricting Great Center from disposing of or dealing with the company's assets, estimated by Mr Tang to be enough to cover repayment of the US$4.5 million. Chau and Mo are also being sued by Sun Hung Kai Investment Services for failing to repay a HK$35 million loan they had guaranteed.