A company chairman and his wife were jailed for more than two years yesterday for scamming shareholders and the stock exchange about a fake gas project in the mainland. Three other directors of another listed company, who helped to cover up the fraud, were jailed for six months to a year. Wayland Tsang Wai-lun, the former chairman of listed developer Grand Field, was sentenced to 32 months in jail while his wife Nancy Kwok Wai-man was given 30 months after earlier being found guilty in the District Court of fraud. District Court judge Albert Wong Sung-hau sentenced the three former directors of listed financier Upbest Group for conspiracy to deal in the proceeds of an indictable offence. Sixty-three-year-old Upbest founder Charles Cheng Kai-ming, a veteran broker with more than 30 years of experience, was sentenced to nine months in jail. His right-hand man, George Li Kwok-cheung, 49, was sentenced to 12 months in prison while former independent director David Wong Wai-kwong, 52, was given six months. 'Their dishonest behaviour has misled the stock exchange and the investors,' Judge Wong said. 'This has tarnished the efforts for Hong Kong to establish itself as an international financial centre.' The judge found Tsang, 51, was the mastermind behind the scam while his wife, 48, had supported her husband. Both were guilty of a conspiracy to defraud by lying to the stock exchange and investors by arranging for Grand Field to buy a bogus HK$63 million investment in a Chongqing gas pipeline venture from companies under their control in 2002. The pair never intended to inject money into the fake project but to use it as an excuse to gain exchange approval for Grand Field to issue new shares for their benefit. After some investors complained to the stock exchange about the money not being spent on the project, the couple had lied to stop the bourse making further inquiries. They then turned to Upbest to pretend to dispose of the fake project to end the exchange's probe. The three directors arranged for Grand Field to sell the project for HK$32 million but, in fact, the money initially came from Upbest and was transferred through a network and eventually went back to Upbest. The judge ruled the trio had intended that no real transaction take place and was only meant as a cover-up. The Independent Commission Against Corruption spent two years investigating before laying the fraud charges against the five and businessman Li Tai-pang, who was found not guilty. The judge said he had reduced each of the five defendants' sentences by one third as their children and employees had submitted letters saying they were responsible parents, caring employers and had done charity work. ICAC acting chief investigator Ringo Yung Dat-choi said the major difficulty was contacting mainland witnesses, some who could not be located and some who refused to appear in the Hong Kong court. 'The ICAC has no right to cross-border enforcement in China, which make this type of investigation difficult.'