Monday, June 28, 2010

HK police get in the act over cancelled flat sales

(HONG KONG) Police are probing the controversial sale of luxury flats that fell through months after its developer said that one of them had set a world-record price, a report said yesterday.

The Sunday Morning Post, citing a Transport and Housing Bureau document, said that police had joined the probe into the sale after the government launched an investigation into the deal earlier this month.

A police spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.

Property giant Henderson Land Development reported this month that the sale of as many as 20 out of 24 units at its exclusive 39 Conduit Road towers in the city's Mid-Levels residential area had been cancelled. The scrapped deals included what was supposed to be the world's most expensive apartment, a 6,158-square-foot duplex that Henderson said in October had sold for US$56.6 million.

Critics demanded a probe and asked why the cancellations came to light only eight months after the sales announcement, which helped hike prices for luxury residential flats in Hong Kong and stoked concerns about a property bubble.

Henderson has also been condemned for selectively numbering the floors on the 46-storey building as a ploy to attract Chinese buyers. The supposed 68th-floor duplex that snatched world-record price was actually on the 43rd and 44th floors, according to reports. It was so numbered because '68' sounds like 'continuing fortune' in Chinese and is considered lucky.

A Henderson official could not be immediately reached yesterday, but a spokeswoman told the Post that the company would cooperate with any police probe. -- AFP

Source: Business Times, 28 Jun 2010

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