International edition
June 24, 2021

The developer suspended trading in Hong Kong

Macau government could seize luxury site “La Scala”

(Macau).- According to reports of South China Morning Post, Macau government could seize the site of the us$ 2.5 billion “La Scala” development at the end of the corruption trial in which two Hong Kong tycoons are accused of paying a us$ 2.5 billion bribe to the former Secretary for Transport and Public Works, Ao Man Long.

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he developer in question is Chinese Estates, which is building a us$ 2.5 billion luxury housing project called “La Scala” on a land opposite Macau Airport and near the city’s Cotai strip and that has already pre-sold hundreds of flats. According to SCMP, Macau’s chief executive Chui Sai On declined to rule out this government seizing the five plots of land involved.

“For now, we have to wait for the court’s ruling. We will handle the matter according to the ruling of the court”, Chui was quoted in the journal. SCMP also referred to Macau lawyer Vítor Gomes who said buyers would have the right to compensation amounting to twice their down payment if the land were taken back. But he did not believe this would happen “in order not to harm the buyers, as well as to protect the image of Macau.”

Joseph Lau Luen Hung, chairman of Chinese Estates and Steven Lo Kit Shing, chairman of BMA Investment and convenor of South China, Hong Kong’s most successful soccer team are charged with bribery and money laundering over a us$ 2.5 billion allegedly offered to Ao Man Long during the bidding process for five plots of land in 2005. Although according to SCMP a check co-signed by Lau for us$ 2.5 billion was found in Ao’s former home , both Lau and Lo deny the payment of a bribe to Ao Man Long. Macau’s Court of Criminal Instruction rejected a request to dismiss the case on lack of evidence.
 
Chinese Estates Holdings fell more than 7% after the company released a statement saying that its chairman Lau “strenuously denies the allegations leveled against him.” The case will be tried in the Court of First Instance “for trial in due course”, the property developer said. It also stated Lau, who controls almost 75 percent of the us$ 2.4 billion Hong Kong based developer, will remain as chairman, chief executive and executive director. The developer suspended trading in Hong Kong on Friday after Lau was charged for bribery.

According to SCMP the developer has set up a special committee to monitor the potential impact of the case on the property. The charges tem from allegations made in the last trial of Macau’s former transport and public works chief, Ao Man Long, who is serving 28 years in prison after being convicted in trials in 2008 and 2009 for taking bribes, laundering money and abusing his power when approving certain construction contracts. The verdict in Ao’s last trial is due to be handed down on Thursday.

Lau, an art and wine collector, who Forbes says is worth us$ 6.5 billion, is the latest Hong Kong tycoon to be involved in a corruption scandal.

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