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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Alleged fugitive is property mogul in China, HK
Zeng’s case is first high-profile extradition between US and HK since Snowden’s

Wei Zeng Alleged Hong Kong fugitive Wei Zeng is no ordinary businessman but a known property developer and hotel and golf course mogul in China and Hong Kong, Saipan Tribune learned.

With the U.S. government’s filing on Friday of a complaint for provisional arrest with a view toward extraditing the 51-year-old Zheng, this will be the first high-profile extradition between the U.S. and Hong Kong governments since Washington’s failed bid to secure the return of former National Security Agency contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden in June 2013.

According to a Hong Kong media entity, Zeng is known, among other property projects, for his role as developer of the Beijing Palm Springs Apartments, one of the most luxurious apartment communities in Beijing.

Zhang Hong, Beijing bureau chief for the South China Morning Post, told Saipan Tribune yesterday that Zeng is “quite famous” in Hong Kong and China so everybody wants to learn about his case on Saipan.

Hong said the extradition matter would be closely watched in China and Hong Kong as this is a big development for U.S.-Hong Kong relationship after the Snowden extradition case.

It was Snowden who revealed the National Security Agency’s top secret surveillance program, PRISM. Citing incomplete paperwork, Hong Kong officials did not issue a provisional arrest warrant against Snowden. As a result, Snowden managed to leave Hong Kong, infuriating the U.S.

According to South China Morning Post’s online edition yesterday, the Independent Commission Against Corruption issued a statement Tuesday night, thanking the U.S. government for its “valuable assistance” in securing Zeng’s arrest.

The commission reportedly stated that a formal request for Zeng’s surrender is now being prepared and will be submitted to the United States within 60 days of his arrest.

In the U.S. complaint, assistant U.S. attorney Jessica F. Cruz disclosed that Zeng allegedly bribed a bank official in Hong Kong with a bag filled with HK$2.3 million, the equivalent of $300,000, at a hotel in Hong Kong in October 2010.

Cruz said the cash was allegedly a reward for the bank official’s help in a multi-million Hong Kong dollar loan extension application and for giving favorable credit information relating to Zeng’s companies: Kostar Investments Limited and Shine City International Limited.

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

Zeng was arrested last Jan. 16 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.

Shortly after the U.S. government filed the complaint for provisional arrest, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona issued the arrest warrant for Zeng. Federal agents served Zeng with the arrest warrant on Monday.

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