A Hong Kong court on Thursday adjourned until March 24 the trial of Cheung Chi Tai, a former shareholder in Neptune Group Ltd, a Hong Kong-listed investor in the Macau VIP gambling sector.
Prosecutors asked for a six-month adjournment, citing the complexity involved in investigating a large number of bank accounts and the need to carry out investigations in collaboration with Macau officials, according to media reports.
Mr Cheung, who denies any wrongdoing, was detained in June on suspicion of dealing with property known or believed to represent proceeds of crime – an offence under Hong Kong’s Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance. The businessman faces three charges of laundering HKD1.8 billion (US$232 million) through accounts in Hong Kong, Reuters reported quoting court papers.
In November 2014, Hong Kong police launched a money laundering investigation into Mr Cheung. At least two of the money laundering charges Mr Cheung faces relate to events said to have taken place between 2004 and 2010, according to the report.
Through a privately held company, Mr Cheung owned a maximum of 12.9 percent of Neptune Group in 2007 but has had no stake since September 2008, Hong Kong Stock Exchange filings indicate.
Mr Cheung was making his second court appearance since being granted bail following his surrender to police in June. He was released in June on bail of HKD200,000.
The court on Thursday allowed the businessman – whose assets were frozen after police started their investigation – to leave Hong Kong and visit mainland China to deal with his investments there. The investments include real estate projects in the cities of Shanghai and Dongguan, and a pawnshop in Zhuhai. The three projects involved investments totalling HKD175 million, reported Hong Kong newspaper the South China Morning Post.
The court ordered Mr Cheung to pay an extra HKD100,000 in bail by Friday and report to the police every two weeks.
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"The [Macau] government has a lead in this subject in regards to what should be done after the [gaming] concessions expire. We will be first listening to what the government will say”
Ambrose So Shu Fai
Vice-chairman and chief executive at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings