The case against four people arrested by national security police and accused of conspiracy to defraud a bank and an insurance company out of more than HK$4.7 million will be transferred to the city’s District Court, a lower court decided on Thursday.

Cheung Ho-yeung, Ho Kwai-yeung, Chow Ting-ting, and Peter Chow appeared before Principal Magistrate Don So at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts, local media reported.

The District Court in Wan Chai, Hong Kong, on November 2, 2023. Photo: Hans Tse/HKFP.
The District Court in Wan Chai, Hong Kong, on November 2, 2023. Photo: Hans Tse/HKFP.

The court heard that they were arrested by national security police between last October and this April, and each faces a charge of conspiracy to defraud a bank between November 9, 2021 and March 3, 2022.

The case was adjourned to January 11 next year and moved to the District Court where sentences are capped at seven years. The defendants were not required to enter a plea.

The court heard that the four allegedly obtained HK$4.73 million by committing a loan fraud.

Returning Valiant

Cheung, now 23, is also charged under the Beijing-imposed national security law with conspiring with others “with a view to coercing” the Central and Hong Kong governments, or “intimidating the public in order to pursue a political agenda, to organise, plan, commit, participate in or threaten to commit terrorist activities.”

Cheung, a student at the time of the alleged offence, also faces an alternative charge of “conspiracy to cause explosions likely to endanger life or property,” and will remain in custody. The other three defendants are on bail.

High Court.
Court of Appeal in the High Court. File photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Cheung’s national security case will be heard at the Court of First Instance, where the maximum penalty for conspiracy to commit terrorist activities is life imprisonment.

He was arrested last October and is suspected of providing self-proclaimed “revolutionary” political group Returning Valiant with financial support.

Police said the group was suspected of plotting to make bombs and target railways and courts. A court sentenced five teenaged members of the group to a training centre that October, marking the first time minors had been sentenced under the security law.

The legislation, passed by Beijing in June 2020 following months of pro-democracy protests, criminalised subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure.

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James Lee is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press with an interest in culture and social issues. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in Journalism from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he witnessed the institution’s transformation over the course of the 2019 extradition bill protests and after the passing of the Beijing-imposed security law.

Since joining HKFP in 2023, he has covered local politics, the city’s housing crisis, as well as landmark court cases including the 47 democrats national security trial. He was previously a reporter at The Standard where he interviewed pro-establishment heavyweights and extensively covered the Covid-19 pandemic and Hong Kong’s political overhauls under the national security law.