Jimmy Lai companies under the gun in raids

Next Digital founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying is being investigated for operating a secretary service business without a license and breaching a rental agreement to use Next Digital's Tseung Kwan O head office for non-industrial purposes. A dozen commercial crimes bureau officers...

Staff Reporters

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Next Digital founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying is being investigated for operating a secretary service business without a license and breaching a rental agreement to use Next Digital's Tseung Kwan O head office for non-industrial purposes.

A dozen commercial crimes bureau officers yesterday raided Dico Consultants' office in Tung Chiu Commercial Centre on Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, and seized boxes of documents. No one was arrested.

Chief inspector Chan Kwok-wai said a report was received last month about a firm allegedly breaching a Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate rental agreement and subleasing the premises. It also allegedly provided secretarial services without a license and is suspected of money laundering.

Dico Consultants, founded in 1988, has been registered under the Companies Registry as a secretarial firm since 2016, he said. Its directors are understood to be Lai and his right-hand man Mark Simon.

Sources claimed Dico had its address registered at Next Digital's headquarters on Chun Ying Street in the industrial estate before changing it to Tung Chiu Commercial Centre. They also alleged Dico has been providing "secretarial services" for 22 companies since 2016 without a license, prompting the police to apply for a warrant on May 27 to search its Wan Chai office.

According to the registry, Dico is still providing "company secretarial services," but it does not hold a license as a trust or company service provider.

It is a criminal offense to conduct a trust or company service business without a license, which carries a penalty of up to six months in jail and a HK$100,000 fine.

Sources said science park has sent staff to inspect Next Digital's headquarters but did not find any violation of the rental lease.