Francis Choi Chi-ming, the billionaire Hong Kong toy manufacturer whose name was last week reportedly added to a growing list of defendants in a lawsuit being brought by the the Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed advisory firm Convoy Global Holdings over alleged financial improprieties, has himself filed a claim against his business partner and former Convoy director Roy Cho Kawi-chee, according to local press reports.
In his suit, Choi – who, as reported, is known locally as the “Toy King” for his ownership of toy manufacturer Early Light International, which makes toys for such companies as Mattel – is seeking HK$309m (£28.4m, $39.4m, €31.8m) for “unpaid loans and interest payments”, according to the South China Morning Post, which has been closely following the Convoy Global saga over the last few months.
The publication noted that Cho, a Hong Kong-trained medical doctor who has been said to have been “the mastermind” behind a series of transactions under investigation, “has not been seen in Hong Kong since November, stirring speculation he may have fled the city”.
As reported, a hearing in the case being brought by Convoy against 27 defendants had been due to take place last Wednesday, but was instead on that day pushed back to September, in order to add Choi’s name to the list, the SCMP reported. Last week’s hearing actually had to do with three related lawsuits involving Convoy Global, two of which are said to have been brought by shareholders and one by Convoy itself, against former directors.
The news of Choi’s counter-suit is the latest in a series of developments that have included revelations that Convoy has been the focus of a joint investigation by Hong Kong’s market regulator and anti-corruption body, into allegations of fraud involving HK$4.4bn.
Convoy, which mainly looks after local Hong Kong residents, has, like many advisory firms in Hong Kong, been under some pressure over the past two years as a result of regulatory changes that have transformed the advisory market.
In November 2016 it announced that it was acquiring a £24m stake in the UK-based Nutmeg investment platform, as part of its efforts to revamp its business model to suit its changing market.