Two principals of a Hong Kong-based company that came close to buying New Zealand’s 22 Crafar farms have been convicted of laundering HK$230 million (NZ$36m).
The South China Morning Post said that a solicitor and the wife of a former director of listed company Natural Dairy (NZ) Holdings were convicted of the laundering.
Wu Wing-Kit, 57, was found guilty in the District Court of laundering HK$68.95m, while Ye Fang, 43, was convicted of dealing with the proceeds of indictable offences totalling HK$230m.
Natural Dairy (NZ) Holdings, known in New Zealand for its frontwoman, May Wang, had agreed to buy the Crafar family farms for NZ$375m.
Wu is Wang’s solicitor and Ye is the wife of Jack Chen, Wang’s business partner.
Prime Minister John Key at the time raised “concerns” about the sale of land to overseas interests.
In December 2010, acting on the recommendation of the Overseas Investment Office, the Government decided not to approve the application.
The rejection was based on the Government’s view that Natural Dairy were not fit persons.
The farms were later sold to another Chinese company, Shanghai Pengxin.
Full story: http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/10425426/Money-laundering-conviction-for-Natural-Dairy-duo
The South China Morning Post says that Ye burst into tears during a court break after part of the judgment had been read to Wu but before she heard her own.
Some of the money Ye handled came from Wu, making the total amount of laundered funds HK$230m, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) said.
The court heard earlier that between December 2009 and February 2010, Natural Dairy – formerly known as China Jin Hui Mining Corporation – had raised HK$790m (NZ$122m) to acquire the 22 Crafar dairy farms.
The deal prompted a complaint of fraud to be filed to the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.
Ye’s husband, Chen Keen (also known as Jack Chen), and two other officials from Natural Dairy were charged with conspiracy to defraud over the purchase of New Zealand-based UBNZ Assets Holdings.
Chen was also charged with money laundering, the newspaper said.
The ICAC said that of the HK$790m, HK$693m was remitted to a lawyer representative for National Dairy Holdings. Of that amount NZ$51.6m (HK$334m) was paid to the company that was to sell the farms.
A representative of that company then transferred HK$73.3m back to a National Dairy representative, who wrote a cheque for HK$68.95m to Wu’s law firm, Fred Kan and Co.
Wu then deposited the money into Ye’s account.
The court also previously heard that Ye had dealt with the money passed to her by Wu, plus a further HK$161m, from March 2010 to October 2011.
She deposited all the funds into her bank account.
In court yesterday, Judge Eddie Yip Chor-man specifically criticised Wu’s inaction in respect of the large amount of funds.
The judge said this went beyond professional negligence.
“He did not make any inquiries at all,” the judge said.
Judge Yip adjourned sentencing to August 29, when he will hear mitigation. He remanded both Ye and Wu in custody.
Shares in Natural Dairy Holdings have been suspended from trading in Hong Kong since September 2010 despite a resumption request last year.
Source: Stuff News
Money laundering conviction for Natural Dairy Duo.
by Michael Field dated 26/08/14