On Sept. 29, the Hong Kong government, led by financial secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, petitioned the court of First Instance to push for the folding of Next Digital Media Group.
Although the power to liquidate the 40-year-old firm is already granted by the Companies Ordinance, Chan argued that shutting the doors of the media company is also in the public’s interest.
A Hong Kong appointed inspector obtained a search warrant on Sept. 28 to raid and seize financial records of Next Digital in an investigation on suspicion of fraudulent activities. The findings were deemed sufficient grounds to dissolve the company.
The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) believes it is “desirable and in the public interest for Next Digital to be wound up, based on information and evidence it has obtained,” SFC said in a statement on Wednesday.
A hearing on the petition is also scheduled for December 15, with Next Digital reporting that it will begin the liquidation process this month. Nine major Next Digital executives, including Jimmy Lai, have already either resigned to aid in the company’s winding up (selling of assets) or been arrested in violation of the city’s National Security Law (NSL).
Next Digital, parent company to the now shuttered pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, was founded by long-time Acton friend Jimmy Lai. Since June 2020, on the passing of Hong Kong’s restrictive NSL, Next Digital and its subsidiary Apple Daily have been at the center of the conflict between freedom of the press and government control.
The petition to wind up the media company is Hong Kong’s latest move to erase the company’s legacy and eliminate public dissent as well as freedoms of speech and press.