Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai charged with fraud along with two Next Digital executives, but no national security law crimes
- The Apple Daily boss was arrested in August in a high-profile operation that saw scores of police raid his Tseung Kwan O offices
- He was also alleged at the time to have colluded with foreign forces, but was not charged under the city’s national security law on Wednesday
The Next Digital founder, who is expected to be detained overnight, arrived at Mong Kok Police Station at about 12.52pm, before meeting his legal representatives in the lobby. He told waiting reporters he was “not going to think about that now” when asked about the possibility of being remanded in custody.
A pair of senior executives from Next Digital, which owns the Apple Daily newspaper, were also charged with fraud after reporting to the Western and Tsuen Wan police stations, respectively.
The two are Royston Chow Tat-kuen, the company’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer, and chief administrative officer Wong Wai-keung.
All three are accused of breaching land-lease terms by improperly using Next Digital’s office space in Tseung Kwan O. They are expected to appear in West Kowloon Court on Thursday.
Lai, Chow and Wong were arrested in a high-profile police operation that saw more than 200 officers raid the Next Digital offices on August 10.
During the same operation, Lai’s eldest son, Timothy Lai Kin-yang, 42, was also arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud. Cheung Kim-hung, CEO of Next Digital, was also detained over the same offence, along with the company’s animation director, Ng Tat-kong.
Both Lai and Chow were additionally alleged to have colluded with foreign forces to endanger national security at the time. Lai’s son Ian Lai Yiu-yan was also arrested on that basis.
Police detained former student activist Agnes Chow Ting and two others for the same alleged crime later that same day.
The other two arrested were Wilson Li Chung-chak, a freelancer for ITV and former member of the now-disbanded student activist group Scholarism, and Andy Li, a member of the Election Observation Mission, set up to monitor last November’s district council elections.
A police spokesman confirmed late on Wednesday that three men, aged 59 to 73, had been charged with one count of fraud, while another five suspected of involvement had been allowed to go after reporting to authorities, but must report back in March.
Police were still investigating alleged offences under the national security law involving some of the suspects, he added.
The arrests of the Apple Daily boss and others came eight weeks after Beijing imposed the controversial national security law banning acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
As of the end of October, police had arrested 23 men and six women under the law. Offenders face sentences ranging up to life in prison.