Tycoon denied bail in HK on fraud charge

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Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai was denied bail on Thursday on a charge of fraud related to the lease of a building that houses his Apple Daily.
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Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai was denied bail on Thursday on a charge of fraud related to the lease of a building that houses his Apple Daily.

Lai, 73, and two senior executives of his company Next Digital, Royston Chow and Wong Wai-keung, were charged on Wednesday on suspicion of concealing from and falsely representing the use of their office to their landlord, a public corporation set up by the Hong Kong government.

The magistrate overseeing the hearing denied Lai bail but granted it to Wong and Chow, setting the next court date for April 16.

The charge stated they were not using the office space as permitted under the lease between 2016 to 2020, and had sub-let part of the premises, resulting in benefits to Apple Daily.

Next Digital, which suspended trading on Tursday, said in a statement it did not expect the charges to have an immediate impact on daily operations, as the company is operated by a team of management personnel. Its shares will resume trading on Friday.

Lai was among 10 people arrested on August 10 for suspected offenses including “collusion with a foreign country/external elements to endanger national security, conspiracy to defraud” and others. Lai was later released on bail.

Suspicion of colluding with foreign forces carries a maximum sentence of life in jail under the new security law.

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