#AceFinanceNews – CHINA:July.27: A further HK$8.4 billion has been “restrained” or put beyond the reach of crime lords over the same period thanks to the landmark Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance (OSCO) which turns 20 this year and was designed to hit criminals where it hurts most – in the pocket.
Official figures – published for the first time today – also reveal that the amount of criminal assets recovered by the government in the past 10 years – a total of HK$2.6 billion – is 28 times more than was recovered in the preceding decade under OSCO.
As concerns mount about creeping crime rates after a wave of robberies at the homes of some of the city’s wealthiest residents and the kidnap for ransom of a city heiress, one of the law’s main architects, senior counsel Michael Blanchflower, said it was as relevant today as it was when it was conceived two decades ago.
“If you look at the figures and undoubted maturing of its application across what we’re considered organised crimes when we drafted the law in 1995 and those which were not even on the radar, I think it has to be said that OSCO has been a success,” he said.
“It was a response to a real and very sincerely felt community concern all those years ago that something had to be done about a rising tide of very serious and organised crime in the city. That it has gone a significant way in dealing with that is not in doubt.”
OSCO is based in part on the United States’ RICO laws that brought down powerful Mafia families. The most high-profile, and perhaps only, case in which OSCO received the sort of exposure normally granted to mafia dons was that of the larger-than-life crime boss, “Big Spender” Cheung Tze-keung.
In 1999, it was used to freeze about HK$160 million in assets belonging to Cheung, who had been executed on the mainland a year earlier for kidnapping one of the sons of Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-shing, among other offences. But OSCO snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, when the seized assets had to be released to the late Big Spender’s family due to a lack of evidence.