(Yicai Global) Jan. 16 -- Courts have frozen assets belonging to the chairman of smartphone maker Gionee Communication Equipment Co. in a move that could relate to gambling debts in Macao.
A court in Dongguan, Guangdong province, froze Liu Lirong’s 41.1-percent stake in the company from Jan. 10, 2018 to Jan. 9, 2020, it said today without disclosing the reason behind the decision. The executive, 45, hasn’t made a public appearance since a product release conference on Jan. 8.
Gionee, whose sales fell over 10 percent to 26 million handsets last year, per industry research from Gartner, said it was inappropriate to comment on the matter as the case is still undergoing the judicial process.
The share price of Gionee supplier O-Film Tech Co. [SHE:002456] closed down 3.95 percent at CNY18.25 (USD2.8) after dipping to less than CNY17.6 on the news.
O-Film’s stock plummeted 7.3 percent to CNY20.2 (USD3.1) on Dec. 14. Shortly after, media quoted an anonymous insider from the smartphone maker as saying that the decline was due to reports Liu owed gambling debt in Macao, China’s casino haven, and that this could be problematic for O-Film’s receivables.
Gionee, which Liu founded in 2002, issued a statement at the time denying the gambling debts and assuring its relationship with O-Film was as normal. The firm vowed to hold the rumor’s instigators accountable and protect its legal rights.