A woman who worked as a secretary for 15 years for Balram Chainrai, the former owner of Portsmouth Football Club, pleaded guilty in a Hong Kong court Thursday to 12 charges of theft and four of fraud targeting her former boss.
Tong Sze-kiu, 41, admitted to the offences that took place between 2001 and 2010, involving a total amount HK$47 million (US$6.06 million), Ming Pao Daily reported.
Tong, who was arrested in November 2010, told the court that she used the name of Balram Chainrai to apply for two credit cards between 2004 and 2005. The cards were then used to pay for beauty treatments, expensive brand-name goods and travel. To repay card debts, Tong issued more than 100 checks in Chainrai’s name to withdraw money from bank accounts.
One of the credit cards she used was a secondary card of Chainrai’s American Express Centurion Card, known informally as the Black Card that is only for elite users who can purchase anything with it. About 2,316 credit card transactions were made on the card, which was charged as much as HK$14.43 million.
An investigation revealed that Tong not only used the money to shop, but also treated friends to expensive hotels and used the funds to pay her taxes. She also used Chainrai’s securities accounts to make transactions and pocketed the profit.
Her lawyer said Tong overspent to keep her husband happy by providing him with material goods. They divorced in 2008.
According to the prosecutor, Tong spent HK$47 million from Chainrai’s accounts but repaid some funds. Therefore, Chainrai’s actual loss was about HK$27 million.
Chainrai, a Nepalese electronics businessman in Hong Kong and once chairman of the Indian Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong, said he felt betrayed. He said he would have helped Tong if she came to him for help.
Chainrai has moved most of his business out of Hong Kong in recent years, and has been spending most of his time outside the city.
Tong will be sentenced next Thursday.
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