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Wednesday, Jun 16, 2021

Another sanctioned cop pays off mortgage

Police director of national security Frederic Choi Chin-pang, one of the Hong Kong officials sanctioned by the United States, has fully repaid a bank mortgage for his Fo Tan flat.
Choi was included in the sanction list in January and it is understood he cleared his mortgage with Hang Seng Bank on March 2.

Land Registry records show that Choi paid off his mortgage for a unit at the Palazzo in Fo Tan to Hang Seng Bank about a month after he was sanctioned on January 15. The document did not state how much he had paid off.

The flat was valued at HK$8.37 million when Choi purchased it in July 2014.

At the time, the mortgage was undertaken by the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, but Choi switched from HSBC to Hang Seng Bank in November 2017.

A "receipt on discharge of a charge" was signed last Tuesday, but the amount was not stated.

The current market value for the 765-square-feet flat is estimated to be HK$13.09 million.

"We apologize as we cannot comment on matters regarding individual accounts," a Hang Seng Bank spokesman said yesterday.

A police spokesman also refused to comment, saying Choi's mortgage is his own personal matter and had nothing to do with his work.

Coincidentally, last Tuesday the mainland's top regulatory official Guo Shuqing said that China and foreign financial institutions in Hong Kong will not enforce the US sanctions.

Guo, chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission and party secretary of the country's central bank, said he thinks the US sanctions are not binding and financial institutions in Hong Kong should follow local laws and regulations.

Former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has said that those sanctioned will be barred from traveling to the US and any of their assets within the jurisdiction of America or in possession or control of US persons will be blocked.

When the first round of sanctions took place on August 7, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who was also sanctioned, said she had to receive her salary in cash after her bank services were suspended.

Another police officer sanctioned on January 15 along with Choi, Kelvin Kong Hok-lai, was earlier reported by the media to also have paid off his mortgage after being named by the United States.

Kong, an assistant commissioner in the police's national security department, had paid off two mortgages for a flat at the Riverpark in Tai Wai on February 24 and 25.

Although the amount that Kong paid off was not stated in the Land Registry's records, he took a HK$5 million mortgage from the Bank of China (Hong Kong) and a HK$2.1 million mortgage from the government for the flat.

Other sanctioned officers include police chief Chris Tang Ping-keung, deputy commissioner of police (national security) Edwina Lau Chi-wai and senior superintendent of police Steve Li Kwai-wah, who all paid off their mortgages in one go.

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