Friday, December 2 2022

The newspaper of jailed mogul Jimmy Lai was shut down in June after a police raid to investigate breaches of a new national security law.

Hong Kong media group Next Digital Ltd has said it intends to go into liquidation and its board of directors has resigned to facilitate the process.

Next Digital is owned by jailed mogul Jimmy Lai and was the editor of Apple Daily, a popular pro-democracy newspaper that closed in June after its newsroom was raided by police officers investigating whether articles violated a law. security code introduced in Hong Kong by Beijing. last year.

The company’s assets were frozen as part of the national security investigation and its shares have been suspended from trading since June 17.

In a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange late Sunday, Next Digital said that the best interests of shareholders, creditors, employees and other stakeholders will be served by an orderly liquidation.

Ip Yut Kin had tendered his resignation as non-executive director and chairman, while Louis Gordon Crovitz, Mark Lambert Clifford and Elic Lam submitted their resignations as independent non-executive directors, the company said.

The CEO of the company, who was arrested at the time of the raid related to the investigation of violation of the security law, and its CFO had resigned in July.

Next Digital said it hoped that the resignations of the remaining board members would result in the Hong Kong government allowing liquidators to authorize payments that directors were prohibited from approving, even for creditors and former employees.

He also said that he hoped that the liquidators would be able to conclude value-creating transactions that would generate funds to benefit creditors.

Climate of fear

The company said the Hong Kong government has never indicated which articles published by Apple Daily allegedly violated national security law, and the uncertainty created a climate of fear, resulting in many resignations, including those responsible for compliance obligations. Regulatory of the listed company. .

“We observe that the events that affected the company and its people after the invocation of the National Security Law occurred despite the fact that there were no trials or convictions,” he said. “Under this new law, a company can be forced to liquidate without the involvement of the courts.”

“As Apple Daily often observed, the people of Hong Kong have a collective memory of what life was like elsewhere when freedom of expression was denied – no other rights are safe,” he said.

Critics of the national security law, introduced in June 2020, say it has been used to muzzle dissent and erode fundamental freedoms, including those of the media, in the former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997. .

Authorities have denied the erosion of rights and freedoms, including the media, in Hong Kong, but said acts that endangered China’s national security crossed the red line. Security officials have said that law enforcement actions are based on evidence and have nothing to do with an individual’s background or profession.


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