A Hong Kong court today sentenced tycoon Jimmy Lai to five years and nine months in prison for fraud to a government company for allowing a consulting company to operate without permission in the offices of the opposition newspaper he founded, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Daily, the former British colony’s press reported today.
The territory’s court also fined Lai 2 million Hong Kong dollars (256,888 US dollars, 243,882 euros) and banned him from running companies for eight years.
The court concluded last October that Lai, 75, “deliberately” concealed the operations of the company Dico Consultants in the premises of the now defunct newspaper.
According to the court, the tycoon, who is already under prison for organizing and participating in unauthorized anti-government protests, broke the rental agreement for the offices of the Apple Daily, which included a clause prohibiting its use for activities unrelated to the publication and printing of newspapers or magazines.
The judge ruled that Lai had an obligation to ensure that all subsidiary companies operating on the property complied with the requirements of the company that owned the facility.
The consultancy Dico began operating in the offices of the Apple Daily in 1998, where it continued its operations until mid-2020, the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post reported.
The founder of the opposition newspaper Apple Daily is in a maximum-security prison in Hong Kong, where he awaits another trial for “collusion” under the controversial National Security Law imposed by Beijing, which came into force on June 30, 2020, a year after an anti-government protest movement rocked the semi-autonomous city.
This law punishes “secession” or “collusion with foreign forces” with up to life imprisonment.