The use of the power of protected law to target a listed company for the first time could hurt the feelings of investors in the city.
Hong Kong authorities have frozen the assets of jailed media tycoon Jimmy Lai, all shares of his company, Next Digital – for the first time in any financial listing, a listed firm has been targeted by the National Security Act.
Hong Kong-based security firm John Lee said in an official statement that the local bank accounts of the three companies owned by Lee were also among the targeted assets.
A statement issued after the market closed on Friday said Lee (Jimmy) had issued a written notice to Lai Choi Ying to issue all shares in Next Digital Limited and the property in the local bank accounts of the three companies owned by him.
Like was sentenced to 14 months in prison in 2019 for taking part in unauthorized rallies during pro-democracy protests.
He faces three charges under a new national security law imposed by Beijing, including alliances with foreign countries.
The move against his property was also made under the Protection Act, which criminalizes the work, including sedition, sedition, alliance with foreign forces, and possible life imprisonment.
The decision by the authorities to use the power of the law for the first time to target a Hong Kong-listed company could be detrimental to investor sentiment.
According to government agencies, bankers and lawyers, there have been signs of capital flight since the law went into effect in foreign countries, including Canada, last June.
Suppression with strong hands
Beijing said it had imposed the law on the former British colony in 2019 to restore order in the post-democracy era, months after anti-China protests.
But critics say the law was used by China’s communist leaders to suppress pro-independence and pro-democracy activists – many of whom have been arrested and imprisoned or escaped exile.
Cheng Kim-hang, chief executive officer of Next Digital, told Apple Daily that Next Digital’s bank accounts had nothing to do with Lai’s frozen assets and would not harm their operations or finances.
In a statement posted on Next Digital’s trade union Facebook page, the firm’s employees pledged to “maintain their responsibilities and continue reporting.”
Lie Next Digital is the main shareholder under the Hong Kong Stock Exchange filing and holds 711.26 percent of the approximately HK 350 35050 million (ড 45 million) worth of shares, based on Friday’s closing price.
The value of other “property” assets deposited by the authorities could not be immediately ascertained.
Next Digital runs Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s most influential pro-democracy newspaper that has long been a thorn in the side of Hong Kong and Chinese authorities.
Senior officials in Hong Kong recently warned Apple Daily about its coverage and called for the introduction of a “fake news” law. Critics say it’s all part of an ongoing crackdown on the city’s media.
Apple Daily’s Taiwanese forces said Friday it would stop publishing a print version of the ad, blaming it for declining advertising revenue and a more complex business situation involving Hong Kong politics.