Chinese Estates Holdings Ltd. appointed a new chairman after the Hong Kong property developer’s controlling shareholder, billionaire Joseph Lau, was convicted of bribery and money-laundering charges in Macau.
Lau’s 33-year-old son, Vice Chairman Lau Ming-wai, was appointed chairman and acting chief executive officer effective March 14, the company said in a Hong Kong Stock Exchange filing yesterday. Joseph Lau resigned from his positions as chairman and CEO after a Macau court sentenced him to five years and three months imprisonment, according to the filing.
Joseph Lau has appealed the verdict, and the application has been accepted by Macau’s Criminal Court of the Court of First Instance, the company said. His conviction order is suspended pending a final ruling on the appeal, Chinese Estates said.
Prosecutors accused Joseph Lau of bribery and money laundering in relation to the acquisition of land in Macau, Chinese Estates said in 2012. Lau, who controls almost 75 percent of the HK$38 billion ($4.9 billion) developer, has denied allegations that he or his company might have given bribes to Ao Man-long, Macau’s former secretary of transportation and public works, who was sentenced to 29 years in prison in May 2012.
Shares of Chinese Estates, which were suspended on March 14 ahead of the verdict, dropped as much as 2 percent in Hong Kong trading today. They were 1.7 percent lower at HK$19.46 as of 9:46 a.m. local time.
Joseph Lau, an avid art and wine collector, was named in April 2012 in the corruption trial of Ao in relation to land being developed by Chinese Estates in the only Chinese city where casinos are legal.
Chinese Estates shares, which were suspended Mar. 14 pending the court verdict, will resume trading today, according to the statement. They have lost 18 percent this year.
Lau has a net worth of about $6.9 billion, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
The case is CR1-12-0131-PCC in Macau’s Court of First Instance.