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Day 59: April 12, 2024

The Witness: Live Update | Day 59 of Jimmy Lai’s Trial: Chan Tsz-wah: Contacted Jimmy Lai through Martin Lee

Jimmy Lai, founder of Next Digital and its related companies including Apple Daily, faces charges of “conspiracy to collude with foreign forces” among others. The trial continued on Friday (12th) at the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts (acting as the High Court) marking its 59th day. On Thursday (11th), Andy Li, one of the “12 Hongkongers,” concluded his 15-day testimony. The prosecution called Chan Tsz-wah as the fifth accomplice witness. During the main examination, he testified that he met Jimmy Lai in June 2019, “through contact with Mr. Martin Lee.”

The case is being heard by judges designated under the National Security Law: Esther Toh Lye-ping, Susana Maria D’Almada Remedios, and Alex Lee Wan-tang. The prosecution team includes Deputy Public Prosecutor Anthony Chau Tin-hang, Assistant Public Prosecutor Ivan Cheung Cheuk-kan, and Senior Public Prosecutor Crystal Chan Wing-sum. Jimmy Lai is represented by senior barrister Robert Pang Yiu-hung, barrister Steven Kwan, and Marc Corlett, a barrister with practicing rights in New Zealand.

16:11 Court adjourns

15:40 Chan: Second crowdfunding organized by “Fight for Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong”; related to the Sino-British Joint Declaration

During questioning, the prosecutor inquired about another crowdfunding event in July 2019. Chan mentioned there was another event, but not with the same people, organized by “Fight for Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong” under the “JD crowdfunding.” When asked how he knew about this crowdfunding, Chan explained that at that time, various advocacy platforms, “Public Sea” groups, and online forums mentioned that “Lam Chau team” was preparing a crowdfunding campaign for an advertising initiative. Unlike the G20 theme which was against the extradition bill and the five demands, the “JD crowdfunding” was related to the Sino-British Joint Declaration, hoping “the British government would fulfill its moral responsibilities.”

Judge Alex Lee Wan-tang asked if the “Public Sea” group was a public group. Chan affirmed, “Anyone can join, that’s why the group could become so large.” When asked who the “Lam chau” team refers to, Chan said it refers to Finn Lau (“Lam chau ba”), who became well-known on the forum “Lihkg” and whom he met in December 2019. Besides Finn Lau, the team also included Andy Li.

Judge Alex Lee asked why Chan considered Andy Li a member of the “Lam Chau” team. Chan explained that at that time, the team needed people to handle the crowdfunding, and he understood that Li was looking for someone to help with the funding. Chan suggested to Li, “You do it,” because Li had experience with crowdfunding and “already had the capabilities to handle all aspects of the crowdfunding.” Chan added that when they later talked, Li was already handling the crowdfunding campaign for the “Lam Chau” team.

15:22 Chan: Mark Simon Says Jimmy Lai Pleased with Global Advertising Campaign, Willing to Continue Support for Advocacy Efforts

During questioning about Chan’s first meeting with Mark Simon in July 2019, Chan mentioned that they met at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Central, Hong Kong, to exchange receipts for the advertisements, with Mark Simon’s son also present. Mark Simon introduced himself as Jimmy Lai’s assistant, effectively executing his boss’s orders.

Chan recalled that Mark Simon praised the global advertising campaign during the G20 summit, expressing that he and Jimmy Lai were “very satisfied with the results and impact” and suggested that future advocacy should “continue the influence of the G20 advertisements,” such as organizing exhibitions. Chan continued, Mark Simon said that “not everyone reads newspapers, and if we could do more in this area, it aligns with their political philosophy, and they would be willing to provide financial, networking, and media support.”

When asked about the specific political philosophy, Chan noted that Mark Simon did not elaborate much but emphasized “democracy” several times. Chan mentioned that they did not discuss repayment issues at this meeting, but Mark Simon inquired about what he wanted to do in the future. Chan mentioned an invitation from friends to go into business, saying he preferred business but noted the difficulty of opening an offshore bank account in Hong Kong. Mark Simon responded that “it shouldn’t be hard, actually I can help you, consider it a reward for yourself.” When asked what the reward was, Chan said that Mark Simon did not specify.

Chan also mentioned that Mark Simon asked if he would continue working on advocacy. When asked what kind of advocacy work, Chan said it involved local advocacy and international lobbying, adding that “I wasn’t very familiar with lobbying at that time, so I told him I’d probably try to participate in more newspaper exhibitions.”

When asked about the focus of the lobbying, Chan said it was the “Five Demands,” which include the withdrawal of the extradition bill, overturning the classification of the June 12 incident as a riot, releasing and promising not to prosecute arrested protesters, establishing an independent commission to investigate police brutality, and implementing dual universal suffrage.

15:22 Chan: Mark Simon Directed Repayment to His “Boss’s” Account

Chan stated that the parties signing the promissory note were himself and Andy Li, with Chan representing Mark Simon. The amount involved was about 1.5 million, witnessed by two netizens. The prosecution asked if Mark Simon had provided Chan with the repayment account details at that time and whether Chan had discussed the repayment details with Mark Simon. Chan said that they had not yet discussed it and that Li later told him, “He didn’t know which account to transfer (the money) to, so he couldn’t repay it yet.”

Chan explained that after signing the promissory note with Li, he called Mark Simon that night, indicating that Li was willing to personally assume responsibility for the amount, “so he wouldn’t delay the payment.” He also mentioned that since Mark Simon provided three bank accounts, “He didn’t know which one to use” and whether to repay in one lump sum.

Chan said that Mark Simon later replied, “Any of those three accounts would do, but it’s best if the whole amount is repaid at once.” Eventually, Li repaid Mark Simon’s side. The prosecution asked if Mark Simon had told Chan who the owners of the three bank accounts were. Chan said no, “He only said they all belonged to his boss, didn’t specify who the holder was.”

15:02 Chan: Andy Li Once Said, “For Hong Kong, I’d Mortgage a Floor to Finance the Ads”

The prosecution asked Chan whether he discussed repayment methods with Andy Li. Chan said he later gave Li some payment receipts forwarded by Mark Simon and details of three bank accounts in Canada, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Chan recounted, “At that time, Mark Simon told me, if possible, to send the money back to Canada, but any of the three accounts could be used since they all belonged to his boss.”

After the completion of the “G20 ad campaign,” which involved placing ads in 20 newspapers across 13 countries, Chan checked with Andy Li about the crowdfunding proceeds, but Li was “unresponsive.” Chan asked netizens what to do, and some suggested using a promissory note to make Li sign and personally assume the responsibility for 1.5 million. “I thought this approach was responsible towards Mark Simon, Jimmy Lai, and even the G20 itself.”

Chan drafted the promissory note and called Li, saying people from Mark Simon’s side were asking when the money would be returned and if there was a schedule. Eventually, they agreed to meet at Lippo Centre in Admiralty to sign the promissory note.

Chan also clarified the number of times he met with Li, noting that their first meeting was around late June 2019, “just to meet face-to-face” and exchange payment records. At that time, Chan asked Li why he was fronting the advertisement fees, as he knew Li was about to front about 4 million, while Jimmy Lai’s side was putting up 2 million, totaling 6 million, “which was about what he could get from the crowdfunding at that time.”

Chan recalled that Li replied, “For Hong Kong, I definitely must do this, even if I had to mortgage a floor, I would still do it,” emphasizing that at that time, he only knew him as “rip” and not yet as Andy Li. Their second meeting was when they signed the promissory note. When asked about Li’s reaction at the time of signing, Chan noted, “I didn’t pay much attention, as I thought the priority was to handle the matter properly.”

14:50 Chan: Sought Mark Simon’s Assistance for Payment Issues with Taiwan Apple Daily

The prosecutor presented an email from a staff member of Taiwan Apple Daily to Andy Li, which stated, “Hi Andy, payment information is as follows. Please notify me after the transfer. Thank you.” Chan forwarded this email to Mark Simon with a note, “Hi Mark, Please help me out with this.”

Chan explained that Mark Simon had indicated that “it was possible to publish in Apple-affiliated newspapers first and pay later.” However, when Andy Li arranged for an advertisement in Taiwan Apple Daily, “it turned out that it wasn’t possible to publish first and pay later, so I sent this invoice back to Mark and made a WhatsApp call to him, hoping he would handle it.” Mark Simon later replied “handled,” and Chan relayed this to Li, who then personally paid for the advertisement in Taiwan Apple Daily.

The prosecutor pointed out that the email correspondence included an email from “” and asked whose email it was. Chan stated that it was his, as he had several email accounts, “but at that time, I accidentally used this email to receive his email, and then I forwarded it to the email ‘thisiswah’, continuing the email chain.”

14:33 Chan: Jimmy Lai Eventually Advanced 1.5 Million for the G20 Advertisements

The prosecutor continued to inquire about the receipts for the G20 crowdfunding advertisement, confirming that some payment records indicated that the payments were made by “Dico” and “Lais Hotel”. The prosecutor asked if Mark Simon had provided him with information about the two companies at the time. Chan stated that he had not initially, but did later, “during my first meeting with Mark Simon”, which was in July 2019.

The prosecutor further asked why Andy Li needed the payment records. Chan explained, “At that time he said he needed to keep records, and some newspapers required a receipt to prove that the payment had been made.” The prosecutor asked how Andy Li provided the payment records to Chan. Chan stated that they met at Pacific Place in Admiralty to exchange the records, noting that this meeting was not their first encounter, as they had previously met to sign a loan agreement.

The prosecutor noted that Chan had claimed Jimmy Lai and Mark Simon could advance 5 million for the advertisements, and asked how much they ultimately advanced for the G20 advertisements. Chan replied that it was about 1.5 million.

12:45 Court Adjourns for Lunch

12:10 Chan: Mark Simon Arranged Payments to Newspapers as Agreed

Chan stated that once Andy Li gave him the newspaper invoices, he would forward them to Mark Simon, saying, “We need to settle this, and then Mark Simon would arrange the payments as we discussed earlier.”

The prosecutor displayed an email sent by Chan Tsz-wah to Andy Li on July 9, 2019, which included an email from Terrie Lam of The Washington Post, stating, “Hi, This was the payment slip received from Mark’s end. I will send through The Washington Post paid invoice statement upon received from HQ”

The prosecutor asked why The Washington Post staff would mention Mark Simon? Because the staff knew that “the person financing or covering this invoice is Mark Simon.”

The prosecutor then displayed invoices for advertisements in The Guardian and Le Parisien, along with the corresponding payment receipts. Chan confirmed that after Andy Li received the invoices, Mark Simon arranged for the payments, and Mark Simon would then send the receipts to Chan.

Regarding Le Parisien, the prosecutor noted that the invoice showed an amount of 18,000 euros, but the payment receipt showed 21,000 euros? Chan replied, “Andy Li informed me that the figures were wrong, that it was overpaid. These words were written by Andy Li,” and he was not aware of any refund being issued.

The prosecutor asked if, apart from receiving invoices and payment records via email, Chan received related documents in any other way? Chan stated that he also received them via Telegram.

11:51 Prosecutor Inquires About Chan’s Role in “G20” Crowdfunding

The prosecutor asked about the “G20” crowdfunding campaign for advertising, which Chan said took place between June 25 and 29, 2019. The prosecutor asked, besides contacting Mark Simon for a loan, what other roles did Chan have? Chan replied, “Later, I helped coordinate the invoices and receipts, but I did not participate in the layout or content.” He explained that he would send the newspaper invoices to Mark Simon, and once Mark Simon arranged the payments, he would email the receipts back to him, and then he would email them to ‘rip’.

The prosecutor asked, which newspapers’ invoices did Chan handle? Chan recalled handling invoices from The Guardian, The Washington Post, two French newspapers, and an Italian newspaper.

The prosecutor further asked, what was ‘rip’s role in the “G20” crowdfunding campaign for ads? Chan explained that ‘rip’, known in Hong Kong forums like HKGolden or LIHKG, was aware of the “G20 Global Advertising Campaign.” He was responsible for choosing the crowdfunding platform, setting himself as the recipient, and “when it was decided which newspapers would advertise, he used his own money to make the payments.”

Chan continued, ‘rip’, besides being a funder, “was actually a consolidator, a collaborator; he compiled content from different newspapers and put it all together at the end, that’s my understanding.”

The prosecutor displayed an invoice from The Washington Post issued on June 28, 2019, noting the advertiser as Andy Li. Chan confirmed, ‘rip’ is Andy Li, “they are the same person.” The prosecutor asked how Chan knew this. Chan reiterated that in July, “we signed a sort of promissory note agreement, I saw his ID then and knew his name was Andy Li.”

11:10 Break
Chan Tsz-wah returned to the detention room during the recess, glancing at Jimmy Lai in the defendant’s box.

10:42 Chan: Mark Simon Said Ads in Apple Daily Could Be “Posted First, Paid Later”

The prosecutor asked if Mark Simon had mentioned anything else. Chan replied, “He also said that if we advertise in newspapers under Apple Daily, it could be done such that the ads are posted first and paid for later.” Chan mentioned that he informed ‘rip’ that he had contacted Mark Simon, saying, “Apple, under Jimmy Lai, is willing to provide a 5 million advance, and the method would be, you send the invoices over, and they will settle the payments.”

Chan noted that ‘rip’ initially did not believe that Lai would assist, “Then I told him again, I am very sure it can be done, and if you need more help with the advocacy activities or on the international front, I can contact Jimmy Lai or Mark Simon again.” Chan described ‘rip’ as “very excited” upon hearing this, saying, “We should arrange the newspapers first,” and they discussed which newspapers and countries to advertise in.

The prosecutor asked, with so many users in the ‘G20 International Group,’ why only contact ‘rip’? Chan replied that at the time he saw a post by ‘rip’ pinned at the top of the group, and only the group admin has the authority to pin messages, and since he had discussed financial matters with them, he believed ‘rip’ was the group admin.

The prosecutor asked if he knew the real identity of ‘rip’ when he contacted them. Chan said he did not know until about July 2019 that ‘rip’ was Andy Li.

10:32 Chan: Mark Simon, Referred to as ‘the boss,’ Agreed to Provide a ‘Bridge Loan’ But Required Repayment

Chan stated that Martin Lee called back, requesting him to explain again why the loan was needed. “According to his understanding, since the crowdfunding had reached its goal, theoretically, you should be able to complete what you wanted to do. Then I explained to him that indeed we had reached the goal, but the crowdfunding platform Go Get Fund was holding onto the money and couldn’t release it immediately. Then he said he understood and he would contact Jimmy Lai.”

Chan continued, saying that Martin Lee had contacted Jimmy Lai, but since Lai was not in Hong Kong at the time, he instructed Chan to speak directly with his assistant, Mark Simon. “At first, it sounded like Jimmy Lai was okay with this,” meaning he was willing to provide the bridge loan.

Chan mentioned that Martin Lee gave him Mark Simon’s phone number. After contacting Mark Simon, “I explained the difficulties we were facing to him, and then we needed this bridge loan to complete the newspaper ads before G20.”

Chan noted that Mark Simon was somewhat aware of the situation. “I wasn’t the first to contact them, but because I expressed it clearly, he was willing to cooperate with me. This plan very much suited their political stance; they also hoped that through this activity, they could prompt the government to respond to the citizens’ demands,” and he would inform ‘the boss’ about this.

The prosecutor asked if Chan knew who ‘the boss’ was at that time. Chan said he did not know, nor were specific political stances mentioned. Chan added that about 10 to 15 minutes after talking to Mark Simon, “he said the bridge loan was no problem, he was willing to front 5 million dollars, but it had to be repaid,” “at that time he said Jimmy would be willing to provide all kinds of help to support this type of advocacy activity.” The prosecutor asked, “Who is Jimmy?” Chan understood it to be Jimmy Lai.

Chan further noted that at the time, Mark Simon said, “this money can’t pass through any of our hands, he hoped that when the newspapers issued an invoice, he would directly make payments to the newspapers.”

10:18 Chan: Contacted Martin Lee to Seek Jimmy Lai’s Help for a ‘Bridge Loan’ for Advertising Campaign

The prosecutor asked why Chan initially contacted Martin Lee. Chan mentioned that on the Telegram group “G20 International Waters,” under the username “Honey T Milk,” he saw a user named “rip” requesting funds to prepare a global advertising campaign. Chan contacted this user to inquire about the situation and the need for funds, explaining that although the crowdfunding goal had been reached, the user could not access the funds immediately.

Chan explained the content of the global advertising campaign, “Taking advantage of the G20 summit, the goal was to express the Anti-Extradition Law Movement and draw attention to the situation in Hong Kong. It was also meant to express the fact that a temporary halt to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance amendment is not a withdrawal.” The prosecutor asked if Chan knew whether “rip” was male or female; Chan said, “When I contacted them, they called me directly on Telegram, and I heard a male voice.”

The prosecutor asked how many users were in the “G20 International Waters” group. Chan said he couldn’t remember exactly, “because I remember the group should have had at least ten thousand, or maybe a thousand people,” but one user named “uncle walkie” left an impression because he suggested “we could contact Jimmy Lai or his friends” to help solve the funding issue.

Chan then asked in the TG group, “So does anyone know Jimmy Lai?” Later, someone suggested, “If no one knows Jimmy Lai, maybe we can contact Martin Lee, because it’s well known they have a good relationship.” Hence, Chan asked, “So does anyone know Martin Lee?” Subsequently, someone provided Martin Lee’s phone number. Chan thought it was a joke at first because “the phone number was very unique, with six identical digits.”

Chan continued, “Then I boldly made the call and got through to Martin Lee,” apologizing for the intrusion, saying, “But there was a global advertising campaign aimed at making the Hong Kong people’s demands heard at the G20 summit. However, because of procedural issues with the crowdfunding, we couldn’t directly access the funds, so we couldn’t reserve the ad spaces as planned.”

Chan told Lee that he needed a bridge loan of 3 million dollars, “which we would definitely repay, and I wanted to see if he could help get in touch with Mr. Jimmy Lai.” Lee understood and responded, “But I’m busy right now, I’ll call you back later.”

10:06 Chan Tsz-wah: Contacted Jimmy Lai Through Martin Lee

Prosecutor Anthony Chau Tin-hang inquired about Chan Tsz-wah’s background. Chan, who goes by the English name Wayland, holds a Bachelor of Laws and a Master’s in Chinese Law. He began working as a paralegal at a law firm in 2018, with his salary from 2019 to 2020 being his source of income.

The prosecution mentioned that Chan was arrested on February 15, 2021, for “colluding with foreign forces to endanger national security,” and was charged two days later with “conspiracy to collude with foreign forces,” involving Andy Li, Jimmy Lai, Mark Simon, and Finn Lau. On July 7, 2021, Chan pleaded guilty and the “conspiracy to aid a criminal” charge was archived in court; Chan confirmed this.

When asked if he knew Jimmy Lai, Chan stated that he met Lai in June 2019 through Martin Lee.

10:05 Chan Tsz-wah Begins Testimony

The prosecution called Chan Tsz-wah, the fifth “accomplice witness,” to testify. Chan, with short black hair and a medium build, wore thin-framed glasses, a blue mask, and a grey-black suit. He entered the courtroom escorted by three correctional officers. At Judge Esther Toh Lye-ping’s request, Chan removed his mask and took the oath to testify.

10:02 Court Convenes

The Witness

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