Crafar bidders could lose millions

By Edward Gay

May Wang and Jack Chen (pictured) were charged with corruption in Hong Kong late in 2011. Photo / Richard Robinson.
May Wang and Jack Chen (pictured) were charged with corruption in Hong Kong late in 2011. Photo / Richard Robinson.

The pair behind the failed Crafar Farms bid could lose millions of dollars worth of real estate in Auckland and rural Manawatu.

The Police Commissioner has restrained million dollar properties as well as company shares, bank accounts and a BMW X5 registered in the name of Chen Keen.

Keen - also known as Jack Chen - and May Wang are facing legal action in the High Court at Auckland.

Details of the properties were released to the media today (Thur) by Justice Mark Woolford.

Four properties in Auckland's St Heliers have been restrained, as well as a Parnell property, two in Howick, one in Mission Bay and another in Flat Bush.

According to the Quotable Value website, two of the St Heliers properties have a capital value of more than $5 million each.

Some of the properties are owned by Anfatex Global Financial Investments.

Keen's 100 million shares in that company have also been frozen.

As well as the Auckland properties, there are four farms in the Manawatu-Whanganui area owned by UBNZ Asset Holdings, one of the companies that tried to buy the Crafar Farms.

The legal move comes after New Zealand police were asked by their counterparts in Hong Kong to go after the real estate.

The property has been restrained ahead of a hearing, expected to take place later this year in the High Court at Auckland.

Wang and Chen were arrested in Hong Kong in late 2011 over business dealings said to have happened in New Zealand while Wang was trying to buy 16 of the Crafar dairy farms.

Wang is alleged to have conspired with Chen, who was then an executive director of Natural Dairy Holdings Limited.

The pair are alleged to have offered two properties in Auckland and a sum of over HK$73 million ($NZ11.8m) to Chen. It is alleged that these were offered as rewards for Chen to procure Natural Dairy to acquire UBAH, a company owned by Wang.

Wang is also charged with laundering NZ$150m in crime proceeds between December 2009 and December 2010.

At the time of the alleged offence, Natural Dairy was listed on the Main Board of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.

Neither Wang nor Chen were at court today during the brief hearing.

Their lawyer Marc Corlett said he would reserve the right to challenge the assets being seized.

Serious Fraud Office acting director Simon McArley said it is understood a preliminary hearing for the criminal charges would take place in Hong Kong in September.

Wang was the frontwoman for a bid on the Crafar farms in 2010, but the Overseas Investment Office declined the application after Wang failed the character test.

- APNZ

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