Hong Kong property tycoon Joseph Lau’s appeal against money laundering conviction rejected - while he spends HK$3 billion on a London skyscraper

Billionaire continues to expand property empire with plans to buy £270m London skyscraper despite failing to quash conviction for involvement in HK$20 million bribe-for-land scheme

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 January, 2016, 11:21am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 January, 2016, 3:36pm

Macau’s top court has rejected Hong Kong property tycoon Joseph Lau Luen-hung’s appeal against his money laundering conviction in a bribe-for-land scheme involving former Macau public works minister Ao Man-long.

Lau, Hong Kong’s fifth richest man, had sought to quash the conviction on the grounds that a lower court had not used the same principles it had applied in a previous bribery case that also involved Ao, the Macau Daily News reported on Tuesday.

In the previous case, the defendant was eventually released by the court as the maximum penalty for her money laundering charge was less than three years’ jail.

READ MORE: Fugitive tycoon Joseph Lau Luen-hung sells Hong Kong office tower for record HK$12.5bn a day after buying US$48m diamond

Macau’s court of final appeal last Friday dismissed Lau’s appeal as his case was different from the previous one in that Lau’s offence could lead to a jail term of up to eight years, the newspaper reported.

Lau, worth an estimated $14.8million, and fellow Hong Kong businessman Steven Lo Kit-sing were each handed a jail term of five years and three months by a Macau court in 2014 after being convicted of bribery and money laundering.

Neither has served time behind bars due to the lack of an extradition treaty between Hong Kong and Macau.

Seemingly unfazed by his rejected court appeal bid, Lau continues to expand his property empire.

He is reported to be looking to buy a £270m (HK$3billion) skyscraper in London.

The billionaire, who once owned a central London home with a gold-lined swimming pool, is poised to purchase the office block at 88 Wood Street, according to reports in the London Evening Standard.

The 64-year-old tycoon famously splashed out on diamonds worth HK$500million for his seven-year-old daughter Josephine.

Among the stash was the 12-carat Blue Moon diamond - which he renamed the Blue Moon of Josephine.

Last Friday, the Macau court found that Lau and Lo offered a HK$20 million bribe to Ao to secure the site of their La Scala luxury development.

The site is close to the Cotai Strip, the heart of the casino boom that has made the former Portuguese enclave the world’s most lucrative gaming market.