Business Editor for the NZ Herald

Police seek Crafar bidder freeze orders

May Wang. Photo / NZ Herald
May Wang. Photo / NZ Herald

A police application to formally register freezing orders over millions of dollars of property tied to Crafar Farms bidders Jack Chen and May Wang was heard in the High Court at Auckland today.

Interim restraining orders are in place over multi-million dollar properties, four North Island Farms, shares, bank accounts and a BMW X5 registered in Chen's name.

The interim orders - due to expire tonight - were made at the request of Hong Kong authorities, who arrested Wang and Chen 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.

Lawyer for the Commissioner of Police, David Johnstone, today sought to formally register the restraining orders and applied for permission for authorities to sell Fonterra shares belonging to UBNZ Asset Holdings, one of the companies that tried to buy the Crafar Farms.

The proceeds of this sale would be used to pay off a loan due to mature in September, the court heard.

Four Manawatu-Wanganui farms held by UBNZ are frozen under the interim orders.

Chen and Wang's lawyer, John Billington QC, opposed the application for these orders and said what was being asked for was far more extensive that what Hong Kong authorities requested.

He also questioned whether the freezing orders could be registered in the form proposed by the Commissioner.

Justice Patricia Courtney today extended the interim asset freeze but reserved her decision on the registration application and other orders sought by the Commissioner of Police.

Wang is alleged to have conspired with Chen, who is also known as Chen Keen and was then an executive director of Natural Dairy Holdings Ltd.

The pair are alleged to have offered two properties in Auckland and a sum of over HK$73 million ($11.8m) 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.

- NZ Herald

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