Officials from Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption, working with the Securities & Futures Commission, on Friday searched the offices of a listed Hong Kong healthcare group, in what was described as part of the ongoing investigation into alleged wrong-doing at the financial advisory firm Convoy Global Holdings, according to Hong Kong media reports and company statements.
The ICAC also issued a statement, on Tuesday, confirming “that the ICAC and the Securities and Futures Commission searched the offices of a listed company, which was involved in a corruption investigation, in a joint operation mounted last Friday”, adding that “while enquiries are continuing, no further comments” would be made at this stage.
The statement didn’t name Convoy, but the link was made by press reports on Wednesday, including the South China Morning Post.
The listed healthcare group in question is Town Health International Medical Group, one of Hong Kong’s largest healthcare entities, and a constituent of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange’s Main Board since 2008.
In a statement to the stock exchange on Tuesday evening, Town Health said the group’s Town Health Technology Centre in the Sha Tin district in the New Territories had been “attended by the officers of the ICAC to execute a search warrant in relation to alleged offence(s)” under two sections of the Prevent of Bribery Ordinance, as well as by “officers of the [SFC] to execute a search warrant in relation to an inquiry” under an SFC ordinance.
The statement, signed by the company’s executive director, Lee Chik Yuet, added that “to the best of the knowledge, information and belief of the directors, the search has not affected the business and operation of the group”.
As reported, the first indications that the authorities were looking into Convoy Global came in early December of last year, when two senior executives of the company were among three representatives of companies listed on the HKSE arrested in what was said at the time to be part of an ongoing clampdown on corruption in the Special Administrative Region of China, as part of a joint operation by the SFC and the ICAC.
At the time the SCMP said a “struggle for control and clean-up” of “one of the city’s largest financial advisory firms” lay at the heart of the Convoy matter. Convoy is said to have as many as 100,000 customers, including the Mandatory Provident Fund, making it one of the jurisdiction’s largest advisory firms.
Further developments occurred in December and January, including the resignation of Convoy’s executive director, Tan Ye Kai, on 9 January. Many of these may be viewed in the Investor Relations Announcements section of the company’s website. Initial hearings in the Convoy matter are scheduled for next month.
In its report today, the SCMP said the SFC declined to comment as to whether anyone had been arrested in Friday’s action.
In 2016, Convoy Global paid £24m (US$30.2m, €27.8m) to acquire a stake in the UK-based Nutmeg investment platform, as part of what was said at the time to have been the largest-ever round of funding by a digital wealth manager in Europe and the largest fintech money-raising since Brexit.
Founded by Dr Cho Kwai Chee
The Town Health International Medical Group was founded in 1989 by Dr Cho Kwai Chee, who, according to the company’s website, pioneered “chain medical shops in Hong Kong”, and in 1999, opened the SAR’s first 24-hour medical clinic. Most recently it has been expanding into the Chinese mainland’s healthcare market, with the assistance, it notes, of its largest shareholder, the China Life Group.