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Police probe developer's record-price apartment sale.

HONG KONG, July 14 Kyodo

Henderson Land, a property developer accused of bloating property prices with a batch of highly priced but uncompleted transactions, is being investigated for commercial wrongdoings, Hong Kong's police chief said Wednesday.

Police Commissioner Tang King-shing said the Commercial Crime Bureau has searched several places, seized some documents and invited a number of people to assist in an investigation involving the developer.

''Until this moment, the police have arrested no person,'' Tang said, adding investigation is continuing ''in all directions.''

Run by one of Hong Kong's richest tycoons Lee Shau-kee, Henderson last year said it sold a HK$439 million ($56.6 million) residential flat of 6,158 square feet at a world record HK$71,280 per sq ft price tag, in addition to 23 other units in its 39 Conduit Road project, which had not finished construction at the time.

But it was later revealed that only four of the flats were actually sold, while buyers of the remaining 20 units did not complete the transactions and their deposits were confiscated.

Some legislators have questioned whether the sales were genuine or just tricks to bloat property sale prices.

Henderson placed a newspaper ad explaining the deals and denied it has any connection with the buyers, some of them companies with registered assets worth just HK$1.

Property prices in Hong Kong have risen more than 25 percent since the 2008 global financial crisis, prompting calls for the government to take corrective action to help first-time homebuyers enter the market.

Lee made second spot on Hong Kong's richest list in Forbes magazine's annual ranking last year with assets worth US$19 billion, following tycoon Li Ka-shing with asset worth US$21.3 billion.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Jul 19, 2010
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