Property tycoon Zeng Wei likely to plead guilty to one charge, lawyer says

Property tycoon, who was on the run for nearly 3 years, accused of money laundering, bribery

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 June, 2014, 12:08pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 June, 2014, 2:10am

Property tycoon Zeng Wei, who fled a money-laundering and bribery trial in Hong Kong almost three years ago, has indicated he will plead guilty to one of the charges against him after being extradited from a United States territory.

Zeng's lawyer, Cheng Huan SC, told the District Court this yesterday afternoon when Zeng appeared after being escorted from the island of Saipan.

Zeng, 51, a major shareholder and director of United Win Holdings, faces criminal charges related to his allegedly offering HK$4.3 million and a mobile phone to two bankers from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) between 2008 and 2010 to defer the due dates of his loans. He is also accused of conspiracy with one of the bankers to launder money.

Judge Kwok Wai-kin adjourned the case to June 27 for plea and remanded Zeng in custody.

Zeng failed to turn up at his trial on July 4, 2011. He was detained in Saipan when trying to enter under the name of Liu Zhiqian on January 16. The US authorities there arrested Zeng that month following a request by Hong Kong's Department of Justice. His is the first high-profile extradition from the US since relations were threatened when Hong Kong blocked the surrender of national security whistle-blower Edward Snowden a year ago.

Zeng is accused of offering HK$2.3 million to Derick Chan Po-fui, former head of the corporate banking department at ICBC (Asia), and conspiring to launder money with him in October 2010. He also faces a charge of offering a mobile phone to Chan in September 2008.

Zeng is also charged with offering HK$2 million to Chan Yick-yiu, former head of real estate and finance with ICBC in 2009.

Derick Chan earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of accepting advantages as an agent and was jailed for two years. Chan Yick-yiu was convicted of money laundering and accepting advantages and was jailed for three years.

Despite sharing the same surname, Zeng is not related to former deputy president Zeng Qinghong .