Agile Chairman Indecent Assault Charges Dismissed in Hong Kong

Agile Property Holdings Ltd. said a Hong Kong court dismissed charges against its chairman for indecent assault.

Chen Zhuo Lin, Agile’s chairman, today pleaded not guilty in a Hong Kong court to two counts of indecent assault, charges that were dismissed after the prosecution offered no evidence against him, according to a statement from the company to the city’s stock exchange.

The founder of the Chinese developer in which JPMorgan Chase & Co. owns a stake was formally charged with indecent assault in Hong Kong on Jan. 8 after police in the city arrested him in August. Agile shares have lost 21 percent since Chen was charged, compared with a 3.1 percent decline in the Hang Seng Property Index in the period.

“The board wishes to state that the above matter is unrelated to the business of the group and has not affected the normal business and operations of the group,” the company said in the exchange statement.

Agile, based in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, was started by Chen in 1992 with capital from the furniture business he founded almost a decade earlier. The developer’s first project was holiday homes aimed at Hong Kong buyers. It began targeting local Chinese buyers after the city’s economy was damped by the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Chen and his wife Luk Sin Fong hold 2.19 billion shares, or 63.58 percent of Agile, worth $3.3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Luk is the company’s vice chairman and co-president.

JPMorgan, with 4.83 percent of the company, is the second-biggest shareholder, after Chen’s family, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Chen is bound by a HK$2,000 ($258) good behavior bond for one year, Radio Television Hong Kong reported on its website. He was ordered to pay HK$2,000 in court costs and will not have a criminal record, according to the broadcaster’s report.

— With assistance by Kelvin Wong, and Simon Lee

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