Exercising the power of security legislation for the first time to target the aforementioned company could have far-reaching consequences for the city.
Hong Kong officials have seized the assets of young economist Jimmy Lai, including all shares in his company, Next Digital – for the first time the aforementioned company is threatened by national security laws.
Among the items targeted were Lai’s three bank accounts, Hong Kong Secretary of Security John Lee said in a statement.
The statement, which was released after the market closed on Friday, said Lee had issued a notice “writing to shut down all shares of Next Digital Limited’s (Jimmy) Lai Chee-ying, as well as the shares in the banks of the three companies owned by him”.
Lai was sentenced to 14 months in prison for participating in illegal protest rallies in 2019.
He faces three charges in connection with Beijing’s new security law, including an agreement with another country.
The move to its assets was also made under the security law, which criminalizes crimes such as sedition, sedition, alliances with foreign groups and secession and imprisonment.
The idea of executives to use legal force for the first time to direct a company based in Hong Kong could have far-reaching financial implications.
There have been signs of escape since the law was introduced last June, in foreign countries including Canada, according to government agencies, bankers and lawyers.
Beijing has said it has enacted a law for former British citizens to restore peace after months of democracy, protests against China in 2019.
Opponents, however, say the law has been used by Chinese Communist leaders to undermine freedoms and fighters for their democratic rights – many of whom have been detained, or have fled from slavery.
Next Digital CEO, Cheung Kim-hung, told Apple Daily that Lai’s assets are not matched by Next Digital’s bank accounts, and that their operations and finances are not affected.
Employees of the company have pledged to continue “doing their job and continuing to report”, in a statement posted on Union Digital’s Facebook page.
Under Hong Kong’s corporate platform, Lai is the next largest shareholder of Next Digital and owns 71.26% of the $ 350 million Hong Kong share (US $ 45m) worth sharing shares on Friday.
The value of some “financial” assets in conjunction with officials was not immediately known.
Next Digital runs Apple Daily, a Hong Kong-based democratic newspaper that has become a thorn in the side of Hong Kong and China officials.
Officials in Hong Kong recently warned Apple Daily of its spread and talked about the introduction of a “false news” law. Opponents say all of this is part of what is happening in the city’s media.
The Taiwanese hand of Apple Daily said Friday it would stop printing its brand, citing declining advertising costs and business problems in Hong Kong linked to politics.