May Wang, who fronted a failed Chinese bid for the Crafar farm enterprise, has been charged with conspiring to bribe officials with properties and with laundering $150 million in crime proceeds.
Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption laid the charges yesterday and issued a warrant for the arrest of co-accused Jack Chen, also known as Chen Keen.
Ms Wang, also known as May Hao, faces one count of conspiracy to offer advantages to an agent and two counts of dealing with property known or reasonably believed to represent proceeds of a crime, ICAC said.
The conspiracy charge alleges that between May 2009 and March 2010, Ms Wang conspired together with Mr Chen, then an executive director of Natural Dairy (NZ) Holdings Limited (Natural Dairy), and other persons to offer two properties in Auckland and a sum of over $HK73 million to Mr Chen.
It is alleged that these were offered as rewards for Mr Chen to procure Natural Dairy to acquire UBNZ Assets Holdings Limited, a company owned by Ms Wang.
The additional charges relate to the alleged laundering of $150 million in crime proceeds between December 2009 and December 2010, ICAC said.
The charges follow a joint investigation into the company undertaken by the Serious Fraud Office in New Zealand and ICAC in Hong Kong.
The SFO began its investigation in September 2010 when the Natural Dairy bid to purchase the Crafar farms in 2010 was being assessed by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO).
SFO chief executive Adam Feeley said that contact with ICAC early in the SFO investigation made it "obvious for the two agencies to work together on the matter".
“There was information in both countries that was vital to the investigation, and this outcome would not have been possible without early and ongoing collaboration.”
Mr Feeley said the SFO gave consideration to charging the matter in New Zealand.
“We believe that there is clear evidence of offending having occurred in New Zealand. However, the alleged crimes were primarily directed at Hong Kong and Chinese investors and we therefore consider it is more appropriate for the authorities in Hong Kong lay the charges.
“We assessed what possible charges may have been laid in New Zealand, and believe that the action being taken by ICAC fully deals with the concerns we identified in the course of our investigations.”
Natural Dairy is involved in manufacturing and exporting dairy products from New Zealand into China. Mr Chen was a director of Natural Dairy and its subsidiaries until October 2010.
Ms Wang was bankrupted on December 8 last year. All up Ms Wang’s Dynasty Group owes about $22 million to creditors.