Hong Kong health care and hospitals

Hong Kong banker Botox fatality: autopsy fails to find cause of death, toxicology tests needed

  • Julius Baer banker collapsed on Sunday at Tsim Sha Tsui beauty clinic
  • Death is thought to be city’s first Botox-related fatality
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 November, 2018, 8:37pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 November, 2018, 9:35am

Toxicology tests will be required after an autopsy failed to determine the cause of death for a top banker who received Botox injections at a Hong Kong beauty clinic.

Police said a postmortem examination carried out on the body of Zoe Cheung Shuk-ling, 52, had been inconclusive. Cheung’s death on Monday is thought to be the first Botox-related fatality in the city.

The managing director of Swiss private bank Julius Baer was certified dead at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei after collapsing on Sunday at a clinic run by 86-year-old Dr Franklin Li Wang-pong in Tsim Sha Tsui.

According to a police source, the doctor initially told officers that Cheung had visited his clinic about her asthma without an appointment, and that she collapsed after taking medication.

But Li later admitted that Cheung had come for a Botox appointment and said she had suddenly passed out after receiving the injections.

Police found what they called “dangerous drugs” at the clinic, and said the facility had not kept any record of the quantities it held, as required by law.

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Li, a veteran plastic surgeon, was arrested on suspicion of breaking the rules on the use of dangerous drugs and misleading police. He was later released on bail.

The autopsy found seven or eight injection pinholes on Cheung’s face, according to another police source. Toxicology work might take months, the source added.

Dr Philip Beh Swan-lip, associate professor in forensic pathology at the University of Hong Kong, said toxicological analysis would usually be recommended if an autopsy could not establish a cause of death.

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Pathologists might try to trace any remaining Botox in Cheung’s blood or other injection sites, Beh said. But he added that the job would be challenging.

In 2009 Li was struck off Hong Kong’s practitioners’ register for five months by the city’s Medical Council after being found guilty of professional misconduct on three charges.

The charges related to the death in 2003 of 70-year-old piano teacher Lam King-fong, who collapsed during a liposuction procedure at Li’s clinic.

Banking industry sources earlier said Cheung had formerly been at Merrill Lynch until the corporation had 18 of its international wealth management businesses acquired by Julius Baer in 2015.