Joseph Leung, who has just resigned from Hong Kong listed wine company Major Cellar as director, has been arrested by police for allegedly embezzling HKD 25 million (US$3.21 million) worth of fine wines and spirits from a client, Vino Joy News has exclusively learned.
This would be the biggest case of wine scam of recent history in Hong Kong.
The news was first reported by local language media but the identity of the company was not revealed except it was described as a Hong Kong listed wine company.
Sources however confirmed with us the listed wine company in question is in fact Hong Kong-based company, Major Cellar.
When reached by Vino Joy News on the phone, Major Cellar refused to divulge further details and said there will be official announcement coming soon.
According to police, HKD 25 million worth of fine wines and spirits purchased by a client from mainland China went missing after he entrusted Leung to temporarily store over 900 bottles at a warehouse on Hung Cheung Road in Tuen Mun last September during the pandemic.
However, when the client asked for all of his wines and whiskies last month, Leung dawdled and came up with a slew of excuses to delay delivery. It turns out 489 bottles of wines worth over RMB 25 million were missing and were sold by Leung.
The victim then reported the case to Tuen Mun police, where the warehouse is located. After investigation, Tuen Mun’s Major Crime Unit arrested the suspect in Kowloon last Friday.
Interestingly, Major Holding, which wholly owns Major Cellar, filed an announcement on Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (HKEX) on June 10, which said that Leung had resigned from Major Holding as CEO, executive director and director of Major Cellar, “due to his desire to devote more time to his personal affairs”.
It’s not clear if the resignation is related to the embezzlement of client’s wines, but it’s worthy to note that the client filed the police report in the same month of June.
Founded in 2008, Major Cellar is among a few Hong Kong wine companies that are listed on HKEX, with the others being Wines Link and Madison.
It was listed in 2014 on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange GEM (Growth Enterprise Market) Board before it was floated as Major Holdings on the HKSE main board the following year.
It currently runs two wine shops in Hong Kong in shopping districts Tsim Sha Tsui and Mongkok after its Central location was closed.
In addition to its wine retail business, it offers wine storage, consultation, and other wine related services, based on its website information.
The company’s wine business has been suffering in recent years buffeted by months long protests in 2019 and the ensuing Covid-19 pandemic.
In its latest financial report, the company’s revenue decreased by 26.2% to approximately HK$114.6 million between March 2020 and March 2021.
The crime is still under investigation and police did not rule out that more suspects could be arrested.