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Friday, October 22, 2021

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai in custody after fraud cost

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© Reuters. Media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, founding father of Apple Day by day, stories to the police station after he was launched on bail following his arrest beneath the nationwide safety regulation in Hong Kong

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By Clare Jim

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong media tycoon and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai was denied bail on Thursday on a cost of fraud associated to the lease of a constructing that homes his Apple (NASDAQ:) Day by day, an anti-government tabloid.

Authorities have intensified a crackdown on key opposition figures within the Chinese language-ruled metropolis since Beijing circumvented the native legislature and imposed sweeping nationwide safety laws on the worldwide monetary centre on June 30.

Whereas Lai’s fraud cost didn’t fall beneath the nationwide safety regulation, it marks the newest crackdown on pro-democracy figures within the former British colony, which was handed again to Beijing in 1997 with a promise to keep up the free-wheeling metropolis’s lifestyle for 50 years.

Critics say the regulation crushes freedoms within the world monetary centre, whereas supporters say it should convey stability after extended anti-China, pro-democracy protests final 12 months.

On Wednesday, one in every of Hong Kong’s most distinguished democracy activists Joshua Wong was jailed for greater than 13 months for his function in an illegal anti-government rally in 2019, the hardest and most high-profile sentencing of an opposition determine this 12 months.

Lai, 73, and two senior executives of his firm Subsequent Digital, have been charged on Wednesday on suspicion of concealing from and falsely representing the usage of their workplace to their landlord, a public company arrange by the Hong Kong authorities.

The cost said they weren’t utilizing the workplace house as permitted beneath the lease between 2016 to 2020, and had sub-let part of the premises, leading to advantages to Apple Day by day.

Reuters was not instantly capable of attain Lai or his attorneys for remark. Subsequent Digital suspended buying and selling on Thursday morning, pending an announcement containing “inside data”.

“That is about dirtying Jimmy up. It is Beijing’s policing delivered to Hong Kong,” Mark Simon, an affiliate of Lai, informed Reuters.

An ardent critic of Beijing, Lai has been detained since Wednesday after reporting to the police for his arrest in August. Prosecutors utilized to adjourn the case till April subsequent 12 months, in accordance with native media.

In August, Lai was arrested after about 200 cops swooped on his places of work. Hong Kong police later mentioned that they had arrested 9 males and one girl for suspected offences together with “collusion with a international nation/exterior parts to hazard nationwide safety, conspiracy to defraud” and others.

Suspicion of colluding with international forces carries a most sentence of life in jail beneath the brand new safety regulation.

Lai has been a frequent customer to Washington, the place he has met officers, together with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, to rally help for Hong Kong democracy, prompting Beijing to label him a “traitor”.

The safety regulation was launched on June 30 and punishes something China considers subversion, secession, terrorism or collusion with international forces with as much as life in jail.

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