Assets of newspaper boss could be frozen after Interpol called in

Top News | Chuck Pang 10 Mar 2017

Hong Kong authorities could freeze the assets of the Sing Pao Daily boss Gu Zhuoheng after Interpol issued a "red notice" for his arrest following Beijing's request for assistance over suspected illegal financial activities.

In an exclusive story yesterday, The Standard's sister paper Sing Tao Daily cited sources that Interpol had issued the red notice on Gu, the Sing Pao Media Enterprises chairman.

Xinhua News Agency confirmed yesterday that Gu was allegedly involved in Shenzhen-based financial platform illegal fund- raising case involving up to 1.35 billion yuan (HK$1.51 billion), with a few hundred people falling victim.

According to a picture of the warrant obtained from a source, Interpol issued the red notice on February 28 this year and the warrant is effective until February 28, 2022.

The red notice stated that Gu was born in 1972, has an alias of Gu Jianhong, is 178cm tall and weighs 80kg. It stated he was charged with the "crime of illegally absorbing public funds" under Article 176 of the Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China. He faces up to 10 years' imprisonment.

The crimes were allegedly committed from December 1, 2012 to November 30, 2014 in Shenzhen City.

According to Sing Tao Daily, Gu and his wife set up in Shenzhen in 2012 to attract the public to lend on the internet platform with interest rates of 10 to 20 percent to attract investors. Investors had steady returns in the beginning and the investment amount grew to 1.35 billion yuan.

In November 2014, investors found that they could not withdraw money from the platform. Gu consoled investors and also signed letters of demand with some investors but, after the letters expired, investors could not contact him.

According to mainland immigration records, Gu left China on February 25, 2015, and has not returned.

On May 27 of the same year, the People's Procuratorate of Luohu District, Shenzhen, issued an arrest warrant on Gu for allegedly illegally absorbing public funds.

As Gu was on the run, Shenzhen police applied for a red notice on him from the Ministry of Public Security.

A Hong Kong police chief inspector told Sing Tao Daily that when officers are investigating cases involving money laundering and there is a chance of a suspect escaping, they can send a No Consent Letter to banks to freeze the suspect's bank accounts.

Once the No Consent Letter is sent, the Department of Justice can apply for a freeze order from the High Court and freeze all the suspect's assets, Selwyn Yu Sing-cheung, a senior counsel told Sing Tao Daily.

The police did not comment.

The Hong Kong Company Registry said Gu has 18 companies.

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