Hong Kong police have arrested a man for alleged money laundering in relation to an online crowdfunding campaign he launched after he was found guilty of assaulting an officer during a protest last November.
Police said on Monday that a 30-year-old man was detained on Sunday after the force investigated a public appeal he made on social media in September in the hope of raising HK$500,000 for his family.
Chief Inspector Tang Hoi-tung of the Narcotics Bureau (Financial Investigation) said the suspect cited financial hardship, saying his conviction cost him his job and he needed money to support his family and pay off medical expenses.
Police later found the man received a sum of around HK$5.87 million between September 8 to October 24 this year, which Tang said was far more than the campaign target.
“Police suspect that someone is using their bank account for money laundering purposes. [We] are investigating the source and whereabouts of the money,” Tang said in a press briefing.
The force took away the suspect’s phone, bank card and documents. They also froze his account which contained a total of around HK$5.07 million.
Tang said the man was still in custody, as officers continued to look into the case and see whether other offences were involved, including fraud: “Police suspect that someone is manipulating citizens’ sympathy and using their financial difficulties as a pretext to cover up the source of illegal funds,” she said, adding that the man and his family owned two properties with an market value of HK$13 million.
Reporters at the briefing asked if the man arrested was former primary school teacher Yeung Pok-man, who was sentenced to nine weeks behind bars in early September after being convicted of kicking an officer on November 11, 2019, when he was stopped in Sheung Shui for slow-driving amid a citywide strike.
But police refused to state the last name of the suspect, saying the case has entered into legal proceedings.
Yeung had appealed to the public on September 8 for HK$500,000 after he received his sentencing. In his social media posts, the former Hong Kong beach volleyball representative described the punishment as a “miscarriage of justice” and said his family was in a financial distress after he was fired from his teaching position in July.
He said the money raised would be used to support the daily and medical expenses of his parents who had chronic diseases. The remaining funds would go to supporting the sports development of grass-root students, Yeung said.
“I’m also worried that the bank may freeze my account, to avoid suspicion, please use bank transfers and avoid cash deposits,” Yeung wrote in his post.
The ex-teacher said in a social media post a day after that the campaign target was met and he would stop accepting donations.