“I am a victim,” said Wong Ping-kuen, an investor in California Fitness’s parent company J.V. Fitness Limited, at a press conference on Wednesday. He said that he was deceived into buying the troubled firm and that documents were withheld from him as he signed the deal.

He revealed that one of the missing documents, a statement from accounting firm Deloitte, showed that the firm had a net liability of HK$355 million and that “the existence of material uncertainty… may cast significant doubt over the Company’s ability to continue as a growing concern.”

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PK Wong at press conference.

J.V. Fitness Limited is currently facing a winding-up order sought by Wong, who was a former major shareholder and board member, through his engineering firm. J.V. Fitness assets have been temporarily frozen, leading to the temporary suspension of 12 fitness centres under the brands California Fitness, mYoga, and LEAP. Its employees are on suspension with salary.

Wong said that he found out that California Fitness was full of debt after the purchase and that he had wanted to change the situation through investment, but to no avail. When responding to allegations of violations of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance for unfair trade practices, he said that he had no part in operations and that Michael Cheng, who had convinced him to purchase the company, “controlled all the [operations]” of the firm.

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California Fitness. File photo: Stand News.

The investor said earlier on Wednesday that he was no longer a shareholder of the company and that he had already sold the shares to his elder brother in May. Wong said that “he did not want the company to close” and also said that he did not take any revenue, directly or indirectly, from the firm.

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.