New details involving the biggest wine theft in Hong Kong of recent memory have suggested that Joseph Leung, the former CEO of Hong Kong listed wine company Major Cellar, had allegedly sold HKD 25 million (US$3.21 million) worth of stolen wines through auctions in Hong Kong.
Leung was arrested on July 9 after a wine buyer from mainland China reported to police that 489 bottles of her wines in storage including fine wines, sake and spirits had gone missing, just months after she had entrusted the bottles to Leung last September.
The missing wines according to the victim, who has a Hong Kong Identity card are estimated to worth HKD 25 million.
Additionally, police told Vino Joy News, the two were actually business partners but did not elaborate further about the victim.
Sources told SCMP that the 489 bottles of wine in question had been sold through auctions since late last year.
It’s not clear at this stage which auction house(s) Leung had sold the wines to, but police did not rule out that more suspects could be arrested.
Major auction houses like Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Bonhams, Madison and Zachys all have offices in Hong Kong.
Police warned that purchase of the stolen goods could constitute the offence of handling stolen goods which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison under the Theft Ordinance.
The bottles in question could also be seized as evidence if found.
Leung if convicted of the theft could face up to 10 years, police told us earlier.
According to sources in wine auction who spoken to Vino Joy News, Leung is at least banned from one Hong Kong auction house for late payment that was long overdue for three years.
The case however begs the question what due diligence was done by the invovled auction houses when they took on the stolen bottles.
Leung resigned from all of his positions at Major Cellar last month, just days before he was accused of the wine theft.
Major Cellar as previously reported distanced itself from Leung and insisted that the wines never entered the company’s storage facilities.
Leung is currently out on bail.
*The article was updated on July 26 to include additional information from police.