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Court extends freeze on Huang's assets

THE High Court of Hong Kong today decided to extend the freeze imposed on 1.6 billion yuan (US$234.35 million) of assets belonging to Huang Guangyu, one of China's richest people, amid an ongoing corruption probe on the mainland.

The assets owned by Huang and his wife have been frozen since early August after an application by Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission, Beijing-based Legal Daily reported today.

Neither Huang nor his wife Du Juan attended the hearing today, which was not open to the public. Justice Susan Kwan announced the ruling.

During the hearing, the SFC petitioned to revoke the couple's buyback of their stakes of Hong Kong-listed Gome at the beginning of last year, but the court refused because it had no jurisdiction.

Huang, also known as Wong Kwong-yu, has raised his stake in the company to consolidate his position as the biggest Gome shareholder by purchasing 816.3 million new issuing shares with HK$549 million, the company said in a July 31 announcement.

But an earlier statement by Hong Kong's SFC indicated that the deal between January and February last year was a scheme by the couple to acquire cash from Gome to pay off a private loan worth 2.4 million yuan, which had led to a loss of 1.6 billion yuan for Gome and its shareholders.

SFC disclosed in the statement that the couple used Gome's capital to buy Huang's stakes, the report said.

Huang is the founder and former chairman of Gome, China's leading home appliance chain. He is being investigated in relation to a corruption probe. He is accused of manipulating stock prices and other crimes.

Du is also under investigation and is reportedly being detained in China.


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