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HKMEx’s Cheung Said to Quit Rusal Board Amid Hong Kong Inquiry

Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange Chairman Barry Cheung resigned as a member of the board of Russian aluminum producer United Co. Rusal, which he chaired until October, because he is under police investigation, three people familiar with the situation said.

He hasn’t been arrested or charged with any offense in connection with the Hong Kong police probe into HKMEx’s business, said the people, declining to be identified before the information is public. They said he decided to resign from all public duties to minimize the possible effect on public institutions, including Rusal.

Cheung was Rusal’s chairman from March through October last year before resigning to join Hong Kong’s government. He has also quit Hong Kong’s Cabinet because of the probe, according to a government statement yesterday. Cheung, who ran the 2012 election campaign of the city’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, took a leave of absence from public positions this week.

A Rusal spokeswoman, who could not be identified by name because of company policy, declined to comment today. Cheung also declined to respond when reached on his mobile phone today and didn’t reply to an e-mailed message.

HKMEx surrendered its operating license in the week ended May 18, telling the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission that revenue wasn’t sufficient to support running costs. The regulator said on May 21 it found “serious” suspected irregularities in the exchange’s financial affairs and referred the case to the police.

Three men arrested as part of the probe were charged yesterday with having false documents including letters related to a $460 million check and $11 million of funds. Kowloon City Magistrate Clement Lee denied bail to the men, all from mainland China, and adjourned the hearing. No mention of HKMEx was made in the charges or in court.

Cheung, the founder and largest shareholder of the HKMEx, said previously that the three aren’t current or former employees.

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