Joseph Lau with former partner Yvonne Lui
Though Joseph Lau Luen-hung’s former majority stake in Chinese Estates Holdings is the source of his wealth, he is best known as a convicted felon and fugitive.
Joseph Lau rose to prominence after founding the Chinese investment, development, brokerage and lending company in Hong Kong in 1978. In 2014, Lau and investor Steven Lo Kit-sing were each sentenced to five years in prison by a Macau court for bribing Macau's former public works chief, Ao Man-long, with $2.5M over the bid for five plots near the Macau International Airport. Due to a lack of an extradition agreement between Macau and Hong Kong, Lau has not served time and lives at large in Hong Kong.
After the conviction, he stepped down as chairman, leaving the position to his son, Lau Ming-wai. Chinese Estates' board of directors is made up of several family members of Lau.
In March, Lau transferred his 75% stake in Chinese Estates to his wife, Chan Hoi Wan, and son, Lau Ming-wai, due to health concerns — he has kidney failure and heart disease. Chan now holds a 50.02% stake in the firm and Lau Ming-wai holds 24.97%.
In the last several years, Lau has also become a collector of rare diamonds, often naming them after his daughters. He is also an art collector, owning works by Andy Warhol, Paul Gauguin and David Hockney, and a wine enthusiast, owning over 10,000 bottles. — Julia Bunch
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