Hong Kong singer Julian Cheung’s former manager jailed for two years over HK$1.5 million endorsement frauds
Judge hears pleas from lawyer of Leung Nga-sze, 44, who says client has a daughter with a rare disease
Canto-pop singer Julian Cheung Chi-lam’s former manager was jailed for two years by a Hong Kong court on Friday for cheating the celebrity out of almost HK$1.5 million (US$191,000).
Leung Nga-sze, 44, lied about the value of three advertising deals with various international brands and falsified contracts to pocket the difference. She was sentenced by the District Court which earlier this month convicted her on three counts of fraud.
Judge Timothy Casewell originally sentenced her to three years behind bars, but gave her a one-year deduction, after learning that she was the mother of a five-year-old daughter who suffers from a rare disease affecting the heart.
He also accepted that Leung had made “drastic changes” to her life by signing up for nursing courses, with aspirations to continue to contribute to society in the future.
But the judge rejected her lawyer’s last-ditch plea on Friday to suspend her sentence.
“I consider that an immediate custodial sentence is inevitable,” Casewell said, stressing that the accused had stolen from her boss, breaching the trust placed in her.
The trial had centred on three advertising deals in 2014, including one with Malaysian massage chair retailer Ogawa. It involved a HK$4.8 million contract, but Cheung was told by Leung HK$3.88 million was “as good as it could get”.
At the time, Leung was Cheung’s manager, working for management firm Markwin Investment and production house China 3D Digital Entertainment. Cheung was under the two companies, both chaired by Stephen Shiu Ding-yat, son of veteran screenwriter Stephen Shiu Yeuk-yuen.
In two other deals that year, the court heard that Cheung was told a contract with sportswear brand Adidas was worth HK$200,000 when the client had actually paid HK$300,000. She had also told Cheung a HK$2 million deal with care products manufacturer Procter & Gamble (P&G) was HK$1.6 million.
Cheung, whose wife is popular actress Anita Yuen Wing-yi, testified during the trial that he discovered the frauds during a work trip to Malaysia in 2014.
In August that year, Cheung, best known for his stage name Chilam, was holding a concert in Kuala Lumpur. There, he found out from Ogawa staff that the money involved in his contract with the company was not what Leung had mentioned.
Clad in black on Friday, Leung wept, wiping away tears with tissue paper in the dock, when she heard her jail sentence.
Leung was the main carer for her daughter, who suffered from Kawasaki disease, her barrister Fu Chong-sang said in mitigation. The rare condition affects children, causing inflammation to the blood vessels and, in serious cases, damaging heart arteries.
The lawyer presented the judge with a drawing by Leung’s daughter, which featured a bird on which she wished could carry her mother home. Leung has been remanded in jail since earlier this month, but her daughter was told that she was “receiving training overseas”.
Fu also said her client had paid back HK$950,000. Since the incident, she had enrolled herself in diploma courses in nursing care at Yan Chai Hospital and Open University to change her life.