John Lee holds media briefing and addresses JPEX case, half-price cinema ticket discounts and other free promos for National Day celebration

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19th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee held a media briefing before the Executive Council meeting today to provide an update on the ongoing investigation into JPEX, a virtual asset trading platform accused of fraud. His comments come after the police arrested six individuals linked to JPEX yesterday on suspicion of “conspiracy to defraud”.

Lee began by acknowledging the arrests made by police yesterday regarding the JPEX case. He said he has requested the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) and police to brief the media this afternoon to explain the details of the case.

The Chief Executive emphasised the importance of investing only through licensed platforms. He said the JPEX incident reflects the significance of regulation and consumer protection. Individuals should only invest through platforms regulated and licensed by the SFC to ensure their assets are properly protected.

Lee noted that the government is committed to ensuring an effective regulatory framework that safeguards investors. Funds must be segregated and platforms must demonstrate sufficient financial resources. This will give investors confidence. The SFC will further explain Hong Kong’s licensing regime this afternoon and stress the importance placed on investor protection.

Additionally, Lee commented that the incident appeared to involve fraudulent elements based on police actions. Authorities will take necessary measures to bring those responsible to justice.

When asked if the JPEX incident could damage investor confidence or hinder the development of “Web3.0” in Hong Kong, Lee reiterated the importance of proper oversight. The licensing regime introduced aims to protect investors through regulatory oversight that ensures their assets are not misused by platforms. Investors should only invest through platforms authorized by the SFC and educate themselves on risks associated with different providers.

So far, over 1,400 individuals have filed police reports in relation to JPEX, alleging around HK$1 billion have been lost. A victim support group has over 8,000 members, with one Legislative Councillor Johnny Ng in contact with 30 victims claiming total losses exceeding HK$100 million. Two victims who spoke to the media yesterday said they each lost six figures and hoped the government and community could offer assistance.

Police say their Commercial Crime Bureau is investigating and more arrests are possible. The probe was referred to police by the SFC on 14th September. Officers seized cash and documents during a search of JPEX’s offices in Central yesterday morning.

Meanwhile, the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou (Asian Games) will be held this Saturday (23rd) in Hangzhou. Lee said he will leave Hong Kong on Friday (22nd) to attend the opening ceremony, where he will visit the athletes’ village and venue. This time Hong Kong is sending its largest delegation to date with 680 athletes and a total contingent size of 960 people. Lee expressed confidence that Hong Kong’s athletes will give their all. He mentioned that from 23rd, 26th September livestreaming zones will be available across the city’s 18 districts. Lee also noted that malls extending their operating hours are supporting the “Night Vibes Hong Kong” initiative by livestreaming Asian Games events to allow the public to cheer on athletes and have some fun.

Ten holiday promotions including over 60 cinemas at half price

To help the public enjoy National Day celebrations, the government and public bodies will run an array of promotions and events, including the resumption of fireworks displays. Additionally, the government is collaborating with community groups on local celebrations in all 18 districts. For the second year, discounts are being offered together with the catering industry to share celebrations with the public – over 1,000 restaurants will provide specials.

Lee announced promotions and events scheduled for 1st October:

  1. Over 60 cinemas at half price
  2. Octopus card child passengers can ride MTR, Light Rail, and Citybus routes for free including cross-boundary services
  3. An estimated 1,000 eateries will offer discounts on selected dishes
  4. Local seafood and produce delivered and discounted in Tuen Mun from 1st to 7th October
  5. Leisure and Cultural Services facilities like pools will be free to use
  6. Free admission to science and space museums’ core exhibits plus one-off events at HK Science museum
  7. Wetland Park under Agricultural body will be free to enter
  8. Tram rides will be free
  9. Free ferry rides between Tsim Sha Tsui and Wan Chai, North Point and Kwun Tong plus Stonecutters Bridge
  10. Light Rail and MTR buses will be free to ride
  11. Free additional tours and workshops from 30th September to 5th October under Revitalizing Historic Buildings Through Partnership scheme.
  12. Individual malls and markets will have their own promotions
  13. Extra reward points for districts under Environmental body

“Night Vibes Hong Kong” a long-term initiative, aims to change habits

Regarding consumption policies rolled out by Shenzhen targeting Hong Kong residents, Lee reiterated “Night Vibes Hong Kong” is long-term focused on changing lifestyle habits through a variety of events encouraging evening activities and spending to boost the economy. The initiative aims to promote new culture and experiences for the public to enjoy nightlife. Current plans involve mall hours extensions, deals, consumption vouchers and live entertainment to entice people out.