One time Neptune Group Ltd shareholder in Hong Kong’s Macau VIP gambling sector Cheung Chi-tai’s trial has been adjourned by a Hong Kong court until March 24, 2016 at the request of prosecutors citing complexity of the investigation and the need to be properly collaborated with Macau officials.
Facing three separate money laundering charges, Cheung who denies the charges was arrested on June 26 for violation of Hong Kong’s Hong Kong’s Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance, and accused of laundering HK1.8 billion, approximately US$232.2 million, through bank accounts in Hong Kong, according to a GGRAsia report. Launched last year in November by Hong Kong authorities, the money laundering investigation and at least two of the three resulting charges against Cheung stem from events that took place between 2004 and 2010.
In 2007 Cheung was an approximate 12.9 percent shareholder in the investment holding company of the Neptune Group, but according to Hong Kong Stock Exchange filings hasn’t had a stake in the company since 2008. This is Cheung’s second court appearance since his arrest in June and release on HK$200,000. The court allowed the 54-year-old businessman to leave Hong Kong to deal with investments he has in China that include a pawnshop and real estate projects with estimated investments totaling HK$175 million as reported by local sources. The businessman’s assets were frozen in November when the investigation began. As part of the court order Cheung must report to authorities bi-weekly and pay an additional HK$100,000 in bail.
Last month the Monetary Authority of Macau and the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) signed a pact to prevent terrorist financing and money laundering activities, especially prevalent in the gambling sector of Macau which is long considered to be a money laundering blackspot due to the location’s susceptibility of cash flows in and out of China that go unchecked.