‘Business transaction’ between fugitive billionaire Joseph Lau and ex-girlfriend turns out to be sale of apartment in Wan Chai at a loss of more than HK$10m

Joseph Lau Luen-hung and Lui.

7th January 2023 – (Hong Kong)   Joseph Lau Luen-hung, Hong Kong fugitive billionaire who is the former chairman of property developer Chinese Estates was spotted with his ex-girlfriend Yvonne Lui Lai-kwan together with 3 bodyguard in Windsor House in Causeway Bay.  Lau issued a statement and even held a press conference to clarify over the incident. According to Lau, Lui recently reached out to Lau for help due to financial difficulties, Lau concluded a business agreement with Lui in order not to affect the relationship with their children.

It was recently discovered by a local media outlet that Lau, the former chairman of Chinese Estates Holdings Ltd (0127.HK), bought a 1,363sqf apartment on the top floor of One Wanchai, 1 Wan Chai from his ex-girlfriend Lui for HK$40 million, nearly 16% lower than the estimated price of the unit. The sale and purchase agreement between the two parties was concluded on 21st December last year. It is understood that Lau purchased the relevant unit as a first home and he only had to pay a stamp duty at 4.25% of the property value.

The unit was originally bought by Lui’s father and brother jointly in February 2014, and the price was about HK$51.2053 million but it was resold to Lui in between 2017 and 2018. HSBC valued it at HK$47.4 million. The unit was sold together with a car park space and a motorcycle space. In other words, the price at which Lau bought the unit this time was 15.6% lower than the bank’s valuation. One Wanchai is a single-building development jointly developed by Chinese Estates Holdings Ltd and the Urban Renewal Authority. It has 35 floors with 237 units.

During the press conference and press statement, Lau said that Lui had financial difficulties and refused to comment further. He merely hinted that those who pay attention to finance and real estate news will soon know the reason. He merely helped her for the sake of their children.

The incident caused speculation about whether investment failure was involved. Lau revealed in previous interviews that he taught Lui to invest in bonds, and even said that “she received more than 100 million in annual interest by investing in bonds!” He also mentioned in his breakup statement in 2014 that “she is now a super rich woman, she doesn’t need any financial support from me, and she can live an affluent life.” However, in 2020, HKSMEDIA reported that there was a margin call on the Evergrande bonds and Kaisa Group bonds held by Lui and they were forced sold resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars of losses. It is currently unknown whether this incident is related to the investment failure and hence she had to sell the apartment in Wan Chai to Lau to raise cash to pay for the losses.

In addition to the recently sold apartment, it is reported that Lui also owns a two-storey mansion with a net floor area of ​​4,571 square feet at No. 39 Blue Pool Road, Happy Valley. She bought the house for HK$288.3 million in December 2016. At that time, the transaction price was as high as HK$63,000 per square foot, and the property is held in her own name.