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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Alleged HK fugitive Zeng is indicted in federal court

A federal grand jury indicted yesterday alleged Hong Kong fugitive and property mogul Wei Zeng in connection with his arrest at the Saipan International Airport on Jan. 16.

The indictment charged Zeng with the use of a false document and misuse of a passport.

According to the indictment, Zeng used false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and entries in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Form I-736 on Jan. 16.

In the Form I-736, Zeng stated that his family name was Liu; that he did not use other names; that his date of birth was Feb. 5, 1963; that he had never applied for an immigrant or nonimmigrant U.S. visa; and that he had never been arrested for any offense or crime.

The indictment states that Zeng used a Chinese passport designed for a person with the family name of Liu and a date of birth of Feb. 5, 1963—when he presented this passport to an agent of USCBP, in order to be paroled into the United States.

Zeng arrived on Saipan from Shanghai, China.

According to the U.S. government, the Hong Kong District Court issued a warrant for Zeng’s arrest on July 4, 2011, on the basis of charges that he bribed a bank official in Hong Kong with a bag filled with HK $2.3 million, the equivalent of $300,000 in October 2010.

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 two companies.

The U.S. government has also filed a separate complaint for provisional arrest with a view toward extraditing Zeng.

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.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica F. Cruz stated that releasing Zeng on bail would have negative implications for U.S. foreign policy in cases where the U.S. seeks extradition of fugitives from Hong Kong.

Cruz has asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI that Zeng’s request for bail be denied. The defendant remains in the U.S. Marshal’s custody.

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