Billionaire Joseph Lau, who controls Chinese Estates Holdings Ltd. (127), denied allegations of bribery made in the corruption trial of Ao Man-long, Macau’s former secretary of transportation and public works.
Neither the company nor Lau, who is chairman and chief executive officer, made any unlawful payment to Ao, Chinese Estates said in a Hong Kong stock exchange filing yesterday. Lau will attend court as a witness only, is not a co- defendant and has not been charged in Macau or Hong Kong. The company’s shares, which resumed trading, fell 0.2 percent to HK$10.78 as of 10:41 a.m. local time in Hong Kong.
The developer suspended trading yesterday after the Standard newspaper reported that Lau and Steven Lo, chairman of the South China Football Club, were named in Ao’s third trial. Ao, sentenced to 28 years in 2009, faces six corruption and three money-laundering charges in the latest proceedings, the newspaper said. The newspaper didn’t specify any allegations or charges against Lau and Lo.
Chinese Estates spokeswoman Alison Yeung declined to comment earlier yesterday pending the release of the statement.
The company said in the statement that unit Moon Ocean Ltd. owns the leasehold for several plots of land next to Macau International Airport. The company said it acquired a 70.01 percent stake in Moon Ocean in December 2005 and the remaining 29.99 percent from another party in March 2011.
The developer’s stock has lost 14 percent this year, compared with a 13 percent gain by the Hang Seng Index.
Both Lau and Lo are members of the 1,193-member Election Committee that voted for Hong Kong’s next chief executive last month, the South China Morning Post reported yesterday.
Lau’s holdings in public companies, including Chinese Estates, are worth $2.6 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. His wealth is estimated at about $6.5 billion by Forbes as of March.
Lau, who also has a personal collection of art and wine, paid HK$129.5 million ($16.7 million) for two pairs of imperial crane statues at a Christie’s International auction in Hong Kong in December 2010. In November 2006, he paid $17.4 million for “Mao,” one of Andy Warhol’s portraits of the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong, a record at the time.
Chinese Estates bought part of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s London headquarters for about 280 million pounds ($446 million), the broker that advised on the sale said in January last year.
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