Hong Kong courts

Hong Kong singer Julian Cheung’s former manager guilty of fraud over endorsement contracts

Leung Nga-sze, 43, faces up to 42 years in prison after she was convicted of misrepresenting value of three advertising deals with international brands so she could pocket the difference

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 August, 2018, 6:48pm
UPDATED : Friday, 03 August, 2018, 6:51pm

Julian Cheung Chi-lam’s former manager was found guilty on Friday of cheating the Hong Kong actor and Canto-pop singer out of almost HK$1.5 million (US$192,200) four years ago.

Leung Nga-sze, 43, lied about the value of three advertising deals with international brands and falsified contracts so she could pocket the difference, the District Court heard.

District judge Timothy Casewell found Leung guilty after accepting the star’s evidence against his then manager, saying Cheung was “plainly and obviously a truthful witness” who had no motive to mislead the court.

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Leung, who worked for management firm Markwin Investment, was convicted of three counts of fraud, an offence punishable by 14 years’ imprisonment.

Defence counsel Edwin Choy SC said his client’s decision to give the money back as soon as the crime was discovered was a powerful mitigating factor, coupled with her “original positive good character” that was shown in her charitable work, including a HK$200,000 donation to build a school in China in 2010.

Leung’s sentencing was scheduled for August 17, pending a social welfare assessment to see how Leung’s five-year-old daughter would adjust to being separated from her mother.

The offence came to light in 2014, when Cheung discovered that his HK$3.88 million contract with Ogawa, a Malaysian firm selling massage chairs, was actually worth HK$4.8 million.

When confronted, Leung said that could not be and offered to check the deal. But she later confessed to her employer Stephen Shiu Ding-yat.

“The money was taken away by me, I promise to deposit HK$920,000 the next day,” she said, according to Shiu.

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Leung further admitted in WhatsApp messages to Shiu that she had committed “the biggest wrongdoing”.

“I knew I have done wrong,” she wrote. “There’s nothing I can do to compensate. I have breached your trust.”

It later emerged that she had also siphoned HK$100,000 from Cheung’s HK$300,000 agreement with sportswear giant Adidas, and told a contractor to pay only HK$1.6 million for a HK$2 million deal with care products manufacturer Procter & Gamble (P&G).

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At trial, Leung denied confessing to Shiu, and said she had not falsified any documents or stolen any money. She also claimed that she had forgotten the value of the signed deals.

But Casewell rejected her testimony, saying she was evasive in the box despite her responsibilities as contract negotiator who had full knowledge.

“What she told [Cheung] was clearly fraudulent misrepresentation,” the judge said. “The charge is clearly proved.”