[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

Hong Kong media magnate's home searched

Anti-corruption police raid homes of Jimmy Lai and his aide days before Beijing decides on key voting reform in region.

Last updated: 28 Aug 2014 18:32
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Lai's company owns the popular newspaper Apple Daily, which is frequently critical of Beijing [File: AP]

Hong Kong's anti-corruption police have searched the homes of a media magnate who is an outspoken critic of Beijing and a pro-democracy legislator after receiving a complaint alleging that lawmakers had taken bribes.

Wielding search warrants, officers from the Independent Commission Against Corruption paid a morning visit to the homes of Jimmy Lai and his top aide, Mark Simon, on Thursday, the aide said. Pro-democracy lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan's home and office also were searched.

The timing raised concerns because it comes days before a key decision by Beijing on direct elections for the leader of Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China.

It also comes a month after a trove of documents was leaked to competing news outlets detailing big donations by Lai to local pro-democracy political parties and politicians, including Lee.

However, the ICAC said in a statement it carried out the searches after it received complaints alleging that some lawmakers accepted bribes. It did not identify anyone involved.

'They took nothing'

Lai told reporters camped outside his home in an upscale neighbourhood that "ICAC was here." "They've all gone now and there is no further comment," he said.

Lai's company Next Media owns the popular newspaper Apple Daily, which is frequently critical of Beijing.

Simon said ICAC officers spent three hours going through the computers in his home, but they "took away nothing, they downloaded nothing." He said he did not know if anything was taken from Lai's home.

On Sunday, China's legislature is expected to unveil a proposal to allow Hong Kong voters, rather than a committee of pro-Beijing elites, to vote for their leader.

But the proposal is widely expected to require candidates to be vetted by a committee loyal to Beijing, which will anger democracy groups calling for genuine democracy and set the stage for a confrontation between the two sides.

Simon said the police searches were "a wonderful diversion two days, three days before what's not going to be very popular is announced".

The ICAC denied that there was any "political consideration" in carrying out the operation.

Shares of Next Media have been suspended from trading on the Hong Kong stock exchange, pending an "announcement related to inside information of the company,'' it said.

371

Source:
Associated Press
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.