Hong Kong/China (20/19). The old saying “one man freedom fighter, is another men insurance scheme” hits the reality of the Hong Kong rioters. Hong Kong Police arrested four suspected for money laundering and questionable investment schemes of donations collected for the riots.
Spark Alliance, formed in 2016 collected millions for the revolution but authorities now arrested the four and froze accounts holding HK$ 70 million (US$ 10 million) on Thursday (19/12).
Four people aged between 17 and 50 – three men and one woman – were arrested for money laundering, including the alleged director of the shell company.
The arrested were identified as a student, two clerical workers and a human resources manager. Chan said, adding that the shell company had not paid taxes over the past few years.
Under the Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance, those convicted of money-laundering charges face a maximum penalty of 14 years behind bars and a HK$5 million fine.
Spark Alliance is one of the two crowdsourced funding platforms that collected millions. Hong Kong police says the donations were used by the fund owners for other investments. The largest platform is 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, whose founders include former lawmaker Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, Canto-pop singer Denise Ho Wan-sze, and retired cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun.
“We found the donated money was transferred to a shell company and a significant portion of this money was invested in personal insurance products,” Senior Superintendent Chan Wai-kei told reporters. “The beneficiary of these products is the person in charge of the shell company.” So in other words more good old greed and fraud instead of revolutions.
Spark Alliance announced on the Facebook page that HSBC was suspending the accounts without further explanation.
Lawyers from the Progressive Lawyers Group doubt the charges by the Hong Kong police. Barrister Duncan Ho said the financial support for those who are arrested is not a crime. The Progressive Lawyers Group was formed in 2016 to represent an alternative legal structure in Hong Kong.
But acting senior superintendent Chan Wai-kei said police had found some “pretty suspicious” financial activity linked to the group.
“Our police action today was based on suspicious financial transactions conducted by a shell company. In the past six months, we found there were large cash deposits. Pretty suspicious deposits into this shell company which were incommensurate with its business nature,” Chan said.
Chan said that during their operation, the police confiscated HK$130,000 in cash and found receipts for supermarket coupons worth HK$165,000.
“We seized receipts mentioning that 3,300 coupons had been purchased. We also seized some arrows, some weapons, laser pointers, protest gears, helmets and gas masks. We do not exclude the possibility that the fund was used as a reward to encourage teenagers to come out and join in the civil unrest,” he said.