Hong Kong press boss in fraud row

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The Independent Online
A DISPUTE has broken out in Hong Kong after the conviction yesterday of three newspaper executives for conspiracy to defraud advertisers by inflating circulation figures for the Hong Kong Standard newspaper.

While the three managers were sent to jail, the newspaper's owner, Sally Aw Sian, was found not to have been part of the conspiracy, although the original charges cited her as a co-conspirator.

Miss Aw is closely associated with Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong's chief executive, who served as a director of her parent company. When her managers were arrested last year, the justice department failed to explain why she was not charged.

Paul Harris, a leading pro-reform barrister, said it was "incredible" that Miss Aw had not known what was going on in her company. He said "there is a widespread suspicion this decision was taken because of the important position of Miss Aw in Hong Kong."

The managers created dummy companies to buy up 14 million copies of the newspaper and thus claim that its circulation had almost doubled.