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Trading in TRS Investment, the backdoor listing vehicle for cloud storage and encryption firm, Mega, has been halted pending an announcement from the company, after an 18.8 percent stake in Mega was placed under a restraining order as part of a freeze on the assets of Auckland business William Yan.
Two companies associated with Yan, formerly known as Bill Liu, have been subject to a restraining order under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act, with the shares under the Official Assignee's custody and control, Mega said in a statement. Any funds received as subscription for new shares were paid to Mega's lawyers through banks operating under Anti Money Laundering processes, it said.
"The police have commented that their action does not affect any innocent third parties (such as Mega) who have had business dealings with Mr Yan," chief executive Graham Gaylard said. "Mega has never had any reason to suspect that such funds resulted from any illegal activity, and the restraining order will not affect the operations of Mega."
On Saturday, the New Zealand Herald newspaper reported millions of dollars of assets allegedly owned by Yan had been seized by police as part of an investigation into a money laundering ring. Through a lawyer, Yan denied the allegations, the Herald reported.
Neither company was named, although TEY Trustee Ltd and New Vision Trustee Ltd, which emerged as shareholders of Mega in May, hold a combined 18.81 percent, according to Companies Office documents. Those companies' interests are held through Jesse & Associates lawyer Jesse Nguy, a former president of the now-defunct New Zealand Chinese Business Chamber.
The combined stake pips Shen Zhou Wu's 16.7 percent stake in Mega, who is listed as the biggest shareholder in the company. Shen, a regular donor to the National Party through his Contue Jinwan Enterprise Group, replaced Dotcom as the firm's biggest investor in May.
Dotcom is looking to list Mega on the NZX through a reverse takeover and is spending heavily on court action fighting his extradition to the US on conspiracy and money-laundering charges relating to copyright breaches, and on his political vehicle, the Internet Party. He stepped back from a hands-on role at Mega last year, resigning as a director in August to focus on his extradition hearing, music streaming website and political aspirations via the Internet Party.
Mega appointed Gaylard as its new chief executive this month, replacing Stephen Hall, who would remain with the business to work on its proposed reverse listing with TRS.
TRS chairman Keith Jackson was not immediately available for comment on what the announcement might be.
This month Mega raised US$7 million to help fund the listing, and pushed out a deadline to get TRS shareholder approval for the deal until the end of October.