Former Hong Kong commodities chief appears in court

Prominent businessman Barry Cheung (張震遠), who founded now-defunct Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange Ltd, yesterday appeared in a Hong Kong court charged with conspiracy to defraud the securities regulator and fraud.

Cheung, 59, who served in former Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying’s (梁振英) government, was charged with conspiring to conceal the true financial position of the exchange from the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission and causing or permitting false information to be supplied to the commission.

He has also been charged with intent to defraud a company out of HK$30 million (US$3.8 million).

Cheung, who did not enter a plea, was released on bail of HK$50,000 to return to court on Aug. 24.

Cheung, 59, in 2011 founded the Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange, operator of an electronic platform for trading in gold and silver futures.

The commodities exchange closed in May 2013 after it handed back its operating license to regulators.

The commission at the time said that the Hong Kong-based operator surrendered the license because it felt trading revenue had not been sufficient to support operating expenses.

In the corporate world, Cheung is a former board member of AIA Group Ltd and had a seat until 2013 on the board of Rusal PLC, the aluminum company controlled by the Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.

Both of those companies are listed in Hong Kong.

He was also a member of the Executive Council of Hong Kong and chaired the 2012 election campaign for former leader Leung, whose term ended last month.

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