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Police raid Richard Li home over PCCW bidInvestigation linked to failed privatisationNaomi Rovnick and Barclay Crawford20 February 2010Police have raided the home of PCCW chairman Richard Li Tzar-kai, son of Asia’s richest man Li Ka-shing.Officers from the Commercial Crime Bureau visited the PCCW chairman’s home and executed a search warrant during the past week, people close to the tycoon confirmed.The investigation, which two people with knowledge of the case said was not restricted to Li and involved multiple search warrants, is linked to Li’s failed attempt to take PCCW private last year for HK$15.93 billion.Police also made inquiries at the Hong Kong offices of Fortis Insurance (Asia) earlier this month.PCCW and Fortis last year found themselves at the centre of a court battle with the Securities and Futures Commission, which successfully scuppered Li’s buyout attempt.Hundreds of Fortis agents were among 800 people who became shareholders of PCCW shortly before investors accepted the privatisation offer from Li and China Unicom Group last February. Li made the privatisation offer through Pacific Century Regional Developments, the Singapore-listed firm he controls.“We do not believe Richard Li is the target of any investigation or that any senior management of PCRD or PCCW has committed any wrongdoing. We will co-operate fully with any investigation and wish to see it resolved as soon as practically possible,” said Martin Rogers, head of litigation for Asia at international law firm Clifford Chance, who is acting for Li in connection with the investigation relating to the privatisation.A senior police official who asked not to be named said: “There have been a series of police inquiries related to this matter following up from the court decision. Search warrants for certain locations would follow as part of police investigations.”In the acrimonious PCCW buyout court action, which was a rare example of a government watchdog pitting itself against a successful tycoon, the SFC alleged the February 2009 shareholder vote blessing Li’s buyout attempt had been rigged.The watchdog claimed former Fortis Asia executive Inneo Lam Hau-wah, and Francis Yuen Tin-fan, the deputy chairman of PCRD, conspired to swing the vote in Li’s favour by splitting board lots of PCCW shares among Fortis agents.The SFC first lost its case at the High Court. It won in the Court of Appeal last April. The appeals court ruled there had been a clear case of vote manipulation that had influenced the outcome of the takeover decision.After the watchdog won the landmark ruling, SFC chief executive Martin Wheatley said the regulator would continue probing other potential malpractices surrounding the buyout, without specifying details.Li and China Unicom dropped their privatisation bid last May. They withdrew an application to take the case to the Court of Final Appeal in September.Fortis told Bloomberg on February 10 the insurer’s office had been approached by police.An official police spokesman refused to confirm an investigation was ongoing or what it was about. “We will not comment on individual cases,” a spokesman said.Li’s main family home is a luxury mansion in Shek O. He also owns a house on The Peak. It is not known which of his homes the police visited.
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