Disgraced Cheung charged with fraud

Top News | Phoebe Ng 11 Aug 2017

Former executive councilor Barry Cheung Chun-yuen was back in court yesterday on charges of misleading the market regulator and trying to cheat a loan company out of HK$30 million.

The 59-year-old Cheung, founder of the now-defunct Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange and an adviser to Leung Chung-ying when he was SAR chief executive, was arrested yesterday morning by police officers of the Commercial Crime Bureau at his luxury home in Happy Valley.

Hours later, Cheung and co- defendant Jacky Choi Tat-ying, who was HKMEx's chief financial officer, were taken to Eastern Magistrates' Court, which granted them bail.

Cheung and Choi are jointly charged with conspiracy to mislead the Securities and Futures Commission over HKMEx's financial position from May 2012 to May 2013.

They allegedly concealed or falsified the commodities trading platform's performance to stop the regulator from revoking its trading license.

But HKMEx eventually handed in its trading license to the SFC on May 18, 2014 amid poor trading and questions over its financial position.

Cheung is also charged with intent to defraud Sinomax Finance of HK$30 million.

On that, he is alleged to have falsely claimed to Ng Hoi-shuen in April 2013 that his company, New Effort Holdings, had not been pledged to any entity as security.

Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai allowed Cheung and Choi out of custody after prosecution and defense agreed on bail of HK$50,000 cash for each of them. The two must remain in Hong Kong and surrender all travel documents.

They are also forbidden from contacting 42 prosecution witnesses in their cases. Among those listed are four SFC employees, two business partners, HKMEx employees and bank and loan company staffers.

Cheung and Choi will appear at the District Court on August 24 to enter pleas.

Cheung had nothing to say on leaving court and went straight to his vehicle, which carries a plate bearing the initials "PK" -- which come across as an offensive term in Cantonese.

Cheung founded HKMEx, an operator of an electronic platform for trading in gold and silver futures, in 2011.

But he was better known as an adviser to CY Leung.

He quit all his public roles on May 24, 2013. That was days after police started investigations into HKMEx.

He was declared bankrupt in April 2015 with HK$116 million in debts. In the same month, he was ordered behind bars for six weeks over owing HK$340,000 in wages to former HKMEx employees.

But he appealed successfully against being jailed and instead was ordered to perform 160 hours of community service.

phoebe.ng@singtaonewscorp.com

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