Hong Kong JPEX scandal: influencer Joseph Lam ‘no longer involved in business activities’ of crypto platform at centre of largest alleged fraud of its kind in city

Hong Kong influencer Joseph Lam Chok has said he is no longer involved in the business activities of cryptocurrency platform JPEX and has ceased renting his office after being arrested in relation to the city’s largest alleged fraud of its kind with claims reaching HK$1.37 billion (US$175 million).

In a high-profile press conference on Friday after being released on bail, Lam was asked a string of questions by reporters but said he could not comment on anything involving the alleged fraud as a criminal investigation was ongoing.

He said he was no longer involved in the business activities of JPEX, and had prematurely terminated the rental contract for his office at the Entertainment Building in Central on Wednesday as he was facing what he called a very serious matter.

Joseph Lam (right) denied to answer questions related to the ongoing case. Photo: Jelly Tse

“I heard about what other suspects shared at the police station after their arrests, which was more interesting than I thought,” he said when asked about the prospect of going to jail.

“I don’t think anyone, including myself, expected this outcome. Everyone was shocked … I am doing my best to face it financially and mentally.”

The premises in Central, which he began renting on a two-year lease in September, was searched by police earlier this week, with boxes of evidence and a substantial amount of cash seized.

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Lam, 33, also a barrister turned insurance manager, is among 11 suspects arrested since Monday after police received more than 2,000 complaints of alleged fraud against JPEX as of Thursday.

The platform has been accused of misleading investors while continuing to operate without applying for a licence to offer virtual asset trading services.

The presser was held in the living room of the luxurious Mid-Levels home of the influencer, who was earlier arrested over conspiracy to defraud and released on bail on Tuesday. The space was packed with more than 100 journalists.

Wearing a suit and accompanied by his lawyer David Fenn, Lam told reporters he had been advised by his counsel not to comment on any details of the case.

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“I know that many people face troubles. What I am facing now is even bigger trouble. But I choose to take a positive attitude. Winston Churchill has been my idol. I will be optimistic … I hope you do the same,” he said.

“I wish everyone well, I want everyone to be optimistic and in the circumstances, this is the best thing we can do.”

Throughout the 30-minute conference, he was grilled by journalists over his involvement with JPEX, his connections with other arrestees and whether his assets were frozen. But he refused to comment and repeated that he would assist investigations by law enforcement agencies.

The alleged case of financial fraud involving HK$1.37 billion is the largest of its kind in Hong Kong’s history.

Lam and Chan Wing-yee, a YouTuber also among those arrested, have set up cash-for-crypto shops in the city.

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Ex-lawyer Lam previously worked as an insurance agent at Prudential Hong Kong. He was sacked by the company after he put a pair of sports shoes on sale on social media that were the same kind as the ones worn by a suspect who allegedly killed two women in a brutal knife attack in the Plaza Hollywood shopping centre in June.

Police on Thursday also questioned local actor Julian Cheung Chi-lam and Malaysian actress Jacquelin Ch’ng Se Min, who were both involved in a campaign promoting the trading platform.

Cheung served as the platform’s local “brand ambassador”, as part of a wider promotional campaign, while Ch’ng filmed a promotional video for the company.

Additional reporting by Elizabeth Cheung

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