September 27, 2022
HONG KONG – The High Court on Monday ordered police to confiscate around HK$70 million ($8.92 million) in criminal proceeds of a fund-raising platform that aided protesters in the 2019 anti-extradition bill social unrest.
The funds raised were not used for the purposes claimed and the platform was believed to be involved in money-laundering activities, said police.
Chow Cheung-yau, a superintendent of the Financial Intelligence and Investigation Bureau of Hong Kong Police Force, said since June 2019, the Spark Alliance platform has been actively using different social platforms to raise funds from the Hong Kong public, under the name of supporting anti-government demonstrators.
Also on Monday, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun and five other people went on trial over their alleged roles in the now-defunct 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund
From June to November in 2019, the platform raised HK$80 million in funds and saved them in a private bank account. Some of the funds were not used for supporting the protesters as claimed, but for buying private insurance and paying private credit card debts. Some people also attempted to withdraw most of the money from the account, according to the police.
In December 2019, police arrested three men and a woman involved in the platform on money-laundering charges and froze HK$70 million in assets of two of them. Two arrestees absconded and left Hong Kong in 2020 and 2021. The other two are under investigation.
Also on Monday, Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun and five other people went on trial over their alleged roles in the now-defunct 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, which was set up to offer financial aid to those who were injured or arrested during the 2019 anti-government social unrest.
In its opening statement, the prosecution said that the Fund’s accounts showed that from its establishment in June 2019 to its disbanding in October 2021, there were 103,000 deposits involving HK$270 million and HK$263 million in withdrawals.
Prosecutors said the fund had aided many anti-government political activities, including financing large-scale anti-extradition rallies, sponsoring students to travel abroad to lobby foreign politicians to sanction Hong Kong and Chinese mainland officials and to offer political asylum to Hong Kong activists overseas.
They said the defendants had been active in the fund’s operation, introduced its political agenda, and held media conferences to call on the public to donate money.