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June 11th, 2008:

Warrant Issued After Businessman Fails To Appear

Danny Mok – SCMP – Updated on Jun 11, 2008

A former chairman of a tobacco manufacturer is being sought by graft-busters on an arrest warrant after he failed to appear in court for his alleged connection to a HK$50 million cigarette-smuggling case.

Lu Dayong, 60, former chairman of Nanyang Brothers Tobacco Company, had been facing two counts of conspiracy for an agent to accept an advantage and one of conspiracy to defraud.

Lu was earlier granted court bail of HK$3 million in cash. He was required to appear in court yesterday for the resumption of the hearing, which had gone on for 54 days, the Independent Commission Against Corruption said.

District Court Judge Joseph Yau Chi-lap issued a warrant for Lu’s arrest after he failed to turn up.

The commission said people who had information on the whereabouts of Lu or any other information that could lead to his arrest should call its 24-hour hotline, 2526 6366.

Co-defendants Ko Kit, 39, director of Hang Chun Trade Development; and Chan Kai-san, 40, sales manager of the same firm, had their case adjourned to today. One of the bribery charges alleges Lu, Ko and Chan conspired together and with other people for Lu to accept advantages from purchasers of cigarettes from the mainland between March 2003 and February 2004.

The alleged advantages were for Lu to cause Nanyang Brothers to sell Double Happiness cigarettes to Hang Chun so that they could be supplied to the mainland purchasers.

The other conspiracy charge alleges Lu, Ko and Chan conspired to defraud the tobacco company by concealing from the firm that Lu had interests in Hang Chun. The defendants were alleged to have caused the tobacco company to supply Double Happiness cigarettes to Hang Chun, knowing that the cigarettes would be sold on the mainland, violating the contracts between the two firms.

Another suspect in the case, mainlander Lin Jianding, 42, a former director of Hang Chun, is still being been sought by the ICAC.

China’s Smokers Light Up Young

11 June 2008 – SCMP

China admits it has 15 million underage smokers, most of whom started before they turned 13, according to a Health Ministry report that blames advertising, easy access to cigarettes and low prices. China’s three top-selling brands cost less than five yuan a packet, and more than 90 per cent of young smokers surveyed said no stores had ever refused to sell them tobacco, despite a ban on sales to those under 18, AFP reports.