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Agile shares plunge as tycoon faces indecent assault charges

Victor Cheung

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

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The chairman of Hong Kong-listed mainland developer Agile Property Holdings appeared in court yesterday on two counts of indecent assault.

Chen Zhuolin, 50, was summoned to Eastern Magistracy yesterday afternoon.

Shares of the company fell sharply.

He is alleged to have harassed a female subordinate at his house on Purves Road, Happy Valley, in July.

His lawyer requested an adjournment until February 19 pending depositions from witnesses, which was accepted by the magistrate.

Chen was released on HK$5,000 bail.

The alleged victim, 28, was on the staff of the company's communications and marketing team, according to sources.

After the incident, she left Agile and now works at another company.

Chen held a gathering of business partners at his home on July 10. Some Agile employees were asked to attend to usher in guests.

Sources said that after Chen's guests left, the alleged victim was asked to stay to sing karaoke and dance with a man.

She was allegedly pushed into a corner and forced to touch a man's lower parts. Later, she was allegedly pulled into a room and molested. She then left the house with a male employee.

The woman complained to her superior the next day and, days later, reported the case to police.

After the gathering, Chen went back to the mainland to work and, when he returned to Hong Kong on August 30, he was arrested.

Agile said in a statement that Chen's charges "are unrelated to the business of the company and will not affect its normal business and operations."

After the announcement at midday, shares of the company plunged 6.5 percent to HK$11.80.

It was one of the worst-performing Chinese developers yesterday.

Chen, a native of Zhongshan in Guangdong, made and sold furniture in the mainland with his four brothers in the 1980s.

They then turned to property development and co-founded Agile in 1992.

The company made its name with Agile Garden in Zhongshan, a development once popular with Hongkongers.

The company, with a market capitalization of HK$44 billion, was listed in Hong Kong in 2006.


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