Crime & Justice

Hong Kong court sentences Jimmy Lai to over 5 years in prison for fraud

Beijing, Dec 10 (EFE).- A Hong Kong court on Saturday sentenced business tycoon Jimmy Lai to five years and nine months for defrauding a government company by allowing a consultancy to operate without permission from the offices of his dissident newspaper Apple Daily, official press reported.

The court also slapped a fine of HK$ 2 million (around $256,900) on Lai and banned him from running companies for eight years.

The court had convicted Lai, 75, of fraud in October, concluding that he “deliberately” hid the operations of the firm Dico Consultants from the headquarters of the now-defunct newspaper that he founded.

The court held that the tycoon – who is already behind the bars for organizing and participating in unauthorized anti-government protests – violated the rent agreement for the Apple Daily headquarters, which included a clause specifying that the premises should be used for printing and publishing newspapers or magazines only.

The judge held that Lai had the obligation to ensure that all the subsidiary companies operating in the property fulfilled the requirements of the firm that owned the facilities.

The Dico consultancy began to operate in Apple Daily’s offices in 1998 and continued their operations until mid-2020, according to local media reports.

Lai has been lodged in a maximum-security prison in Hong Kong, where he awaits another trial for conspiracy under the controversial National Security Law imposed by Beijing in the former British Colony, which came into effect on Jun. 30, 2020, a year after massive anti-government protests broke out in the city.

The legislation lays down life imprisonment for backing “secession” or “colluding with foreign forces.” EFE


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