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Monday, April 21, 2014

‘HK fugitive bribed bank official with HK$2.3M’

Alleged Hong Kong fugitive Wei Zeng is a businessman who bribed a bank official in Hong Kong with a bag filled with money equivalent to $300,000, according to court documents filed in federal court.

As this developed, federal agents served Zeng with an arrest warrant on Monday.

U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona issued the arrest warrant on Friday shortly after the U.S. government filed a complaint for provisional arrest with a view toward extraditing the 51-year-old Zeng, a Chinese national. He is also known as Zhi Qian Liu.

In the complaint, assistant U.S. attorney Jessica F. Cruz disclosed that Zeng is a businessman with majority of his businesses in mainland China.

Cruz said the businessman was the major shareholder-cum-director of United Win Holdings Ltd., which was principally engaged in developing properties and operating hotels and golf courses via its subsidiaries or affiliated companies.

Zeng also operated other companies, including Kostar Investments Limited and Shine City International Limited, of which he was a director.

From 2006 to 2007, Zenge allegedly applied for three separate loans with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia) Ltd., for HK$65 million, HK$200 million, and HK$200 million for Kostar and Shine City, with United Win Holdings Limited as the guarantor. All three loans were approved.

At the time, Derick Po-fui Chan was the head of ICBC’s Corporate Banking Department and was responsible for handling loan applications. He endorsed a favorable credit proposal recommending all three loans to the management of ICBC for approval.

After those loans were granted to Kostar and Shine City, Zeng subsequently applied for extending the repayment due dates of the two loans for Kostar on six occasions between 2007 and 2009. Chan endorsed four of the applications. Five of the applications were approved by the ICBC management.

In May 2009, Zeng also applied for deferring the repayment due date of the loan for Shine City. Chan endorsed the application and the ICBC management approved the application.

On Sept. 25, 2008, Zeng gave Chan a Nokia mobile phone worth about HK$3,700 as reward for his help.

On Oct. 5, 2010, Zeng and Chan met at a coffee shop of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong. After chatting for a while, the two went to the hotel’s lavatory where Zeng allegedly gave Chan a bag containing HK$2.3 million cash, equivalent to US$300,000, reportedly as a reward for his help in the extension applications and for giving a favorable credit information relating to Kostar and Shine City.

Shortly after Chan accepted the money, officers of the Independent Commission Against Corruption arrested the two at the scene.

Zeng was charged with three counts of offering an advantage to an agent and conspiracy to deal with property known or believed to represent proceeds of an indictable offense.

On July 4, 2011, Deputy District Judge Sham of the Hong Kong District Court issued a warrant for Zeng’s arrest on the basis of the alleged bribery.

Assistant U.S. attorney Cruz said that, in accordance with Article 10 of the extradition treaty, the Hong Kong government has asked the U.S. for the provisional arrest of Zeng with a view toward his extradition.

Zeng’s initial appearance in federal court was set for yesterday.

Last week, Judge Manglona ordered Zeng’s continued detention pending trial.

Zeng was recently arrested when he reportedly used a different identity to try to enter Saipan. He arrived on Saipan from Shanghai, China and sought admission to the CNMI using the name Zhi Qian Liu. He also allegedly lied that he has not previously applied for a U.S. immigrant or non-immigrant visa.

Court-appointed attorney Bruce Berline is counsel for Zeng.

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