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Hong Kong court orders China's Evergrande, which owes $300 billion, to liquidate
Breaking Legal News | 2024/01/30 10:00
A Hong Kong court ordered China Evergrande, the world’s most heavily indebted real estate developer, to undergo liquidation following a failed effort to restructure $300 billion owed to banks and bondholders that fueled fears about China’s rising debt burden.

“It would be a situation where the court says enough is enough,” Judge Linda Chan said Monday. She said it was appropriate for the court to order Evergrande to wind up its business given a “lack of progress on the part of the company putting forward a viable restructuring proposal” as well as Evergrande’s insolvency.

China Evergrande Group is among dozens of Chinese developers that have collapsed since 2020 under official pressure to rein in surging debt the ruling Communist Party views as a threat to China’s slowing economic growth. But the crackdown on excess borrowing tipped the property industry into crisis, dragging on the economy and rattling financial systems in and outside China.

Chinese regulators have said the risks of global shockwaves from Evergrande’s failure can be contained. The court documents seen Monday showed Evergrande owes about $25.4 billion to foreign creditors. Its total assets of about $240 billion are dwarfed by its total liabilities.

“It is indisputable that the company is grossly insolvent and is unable to pay its debts,” the documents say.

About 90% of Evergrande’s business is in mainland China. Its chairman, Hui Ka Yan, who is also known as Xu Jiayin, was detained by authorities for suspected “illegal crimes” in late September, further complicating the company’s efforts to recover.

It’s unclear how the liquidation order will affect China’s financial system or Evergrande’s operations as it struggles to deliver housing that has been paid for but not yet handed over to families that put their life savings into such investments.

Evergrande’s Hong Kong-traded shares plunged nearly 21% early Monday before they were suspended from trading. But Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng index was up 0.9% and some property developers saw gains in their share prices.


Top UN court orders Israel to prevent genocide in Gaza
Bankruptcy | 2024/01/25 15:37
The United Nations’ top court on Friday ordered Israel to do all it can to prevent death, destruction and any acts of genocide in Gaza, but the panel stopped short of ordering Jerusalem to end the military offensive that has laid waste to the Palestinian enclave.

In a ruling that will keep Israel under the legal lens for years to come, the court offered little other comfort to Israel in a genocide case brought by South Africa that goes to the core of one of the world’s most intractable conflicts. The court’s half-dozen orders will be difficult to achieve without some sort of cease-fire or pause in the fighting.

“The court is acutely aware of the extent of the human tragedy that is unfolding in the region and is deeply concerned about the continuing loss of life and human suffering,” said court President Joan E. Donoghue.

The ruling amounted to an overwhelming rebuke of Israel’s wartime conduct and added to mounting international pressure to halt the nearly 4-month-old offensive, which has killed more than 26,000 Palestinians, decimated vast swaths of Gaza and driven nearly 85% of its 2.3 million people from their homes.

Allowing the accusations to stand stung the government of Israel, which was founded as a Jewish state after the Nazi slaughter of 6 million Jews during World War II.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the fact that the court was willing to discuss the genocide charges was a “mark of shame that will not be erased for generations.” He also vowed to press ahead with the war.

The power of the ruling was magnified by its timing, coming on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.


Pita Limjaroenrat: Thailand court to decide if politician will lose his seat
Breaking Legal News | 2024/01/20 09:36
Thailand’s Constitutional Court is set to decide Wednesday whether popular politician Pita Limjaroenrat, who was blocked from becoming prime minister, should now lose his seat in Parliament.

The election victory last year by Pita’s progressive Move Forward party reflected a surprisingly strong mandate for change among Thai voters after nearly a decade of military-controlled government. But the party was denied power by members of the unelected and more conservative Senate.

Pita was suspended from his lawmaking duties pending the court ruling Wednesday on whether he violated election law due to his ownership of shares in ITV, a company that is the inactive operator of a defunct independent television station. By law, candidates are prohibited from owning shares in any media company when they are registered to contest an election.

The Senate, whose members are appointed by the military, cast votes to choose a prime minister, under a constitution that was adopted in 2017 under a military government. The Move Forward party now heads the opposition in Parliament.


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Court in Thailand acquits protesters who occupied Bangkok airports in 2008
Biotech | 2024/01/17 16:00
A court in Thailand on Wednesday acquitted more than two dozen protesters who had occupied Bangkok’s two airports in 2008 of charges of rebellion and terrorism related to their demonstration, which at the time disrupted travel in and out of the country for more than a week.

The Bangkok Criminal Court declared that the members of the People’ Alliance for Democracy had neither caused destruction at the airports nor hurt anyone. However, 13 of the 28 defendants were slapped with a 20,000 baht ($560) fine each for violating an emergency decree that had banned public gatherings.

The protesters — popularly known as Yellow Shirts for the color that shows loyalty to the Thai monarchy — had occupied the airports for about 10 days, demanding the resignation of the government, which was loyal to former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. They had earlier also occupied Thaksin’s office compound for three months and blocked access to Parliament.

Thaksin was ousted by a 2006 military coup that followed large Yellow Shirt protests accusing him of corruption and disrespect to the monarchy. In 2008, Yellow Shirts stormed Don Mueang and Suvarnabhumi airports, shutting down operations and defying an injunction calling for them to leave. The siege ended only after a court ruling forced pro-Thaksin Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat out of office.

Several dozen protesters involved in the demonstrations were divided into two groups of defendants and indicted in 2013. The verdict for the second group is to be delivered in March.

In 2011, the Civil Court ordered the leaders of the group to pay 522 million baht ($14.7 million) in damages to the state airport authority. They were declared bankrupt and had their assets seized last year to pay the sum.

Thaksin came back to Thailand last year to serve an eight-year prison term on several criminal convictions and was right away moved from prison to a state hospital because of reported ill-health. He has remained at the hospital since but his sentence was later reduced to one year, allowing for the possibility he could soon be released on parole.

His return to Thailand came as the Pheu Thai party — the latest incarnation of the party Thaksin led to power in 2001 — won a parliamentary vote to form a new government despite finishing second in elections.


The top UN court is set to hear South Africa’s allegation of Israeli genocide in Gaza
Health Care | 2024/01/12 13:26
A legal battle over whether Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza amounts to genocide opens Thursday at the United Nations’ top court with preliminary hearings into South Africa’s call for judges to order an immediate suspension of Israel’s military actions. Israel stringently denies the genocide allegation.

The case, that is likely to take years to resolve, strikes at the heart of Israel’s national identity as a Jewish state created in the aftermath of the Nazi genocide in the Holocaust. It also involves South Africa’s identity: Its ruling African National Congress party has long compared Israel’s policies in Gaza and the West Bank to its own history under the apartheid regime of white minority rule, which restricted most Blacks to “homelands” before ending in 1994.

Israel normally considers U.N. and international tribunals unfair and biased. But it is sending a strong legal team to the International Court of Justice to defend its military operation launched in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas.

“I think they have come because they want to be exonerated and think they can successfully resist the accusation of genocide,” said Juliette McIntyre, an expert on international law at the University of South Australia.

In a statement after the case was filed, the Palestinian Authority’s foreign ministry urged the court to “immediately take action to protect the Palestinian people and call on Israel, the occupying power, to halt its onslaught against the Palestinian people, in order to ensure an objective legal resolution.”

Two days of preliminary hearings at the International Court of Justice begin with lawyers for South Africa explaining to judges why the country has accused Israel of “acts and omissions” that are “genocidal in character” in the Gaza war and has called for an immediate halt to Israel’s military actions.

Thursday’s opening hearing is focused on South Africa’s request for the court to impose binding interim orders including that Israel halt its military campaign. A decision will likely take weeks.

Israel’s offensive has killed more than 23,200 Palestinians in Gaza, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza. About two-thirds of the dead are women and children, health officials say. The death toll does not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

In the Oct. 7 attack, in which Hamas overwhelmed Israel’s defenses and stormed through several communities, Palestinian militants killed some 1,200 people, mainly civilians. They abducted around 250 others, nearly half of whom have been released.


India court restores life prison sentences for 11 Hindu men
Corporate Governance | 2024/01/08 15:28
India’s top court on Monday restored life prison sentences for 11 Hindu men who raped a Muslim woman during deadly religious rioting two decades ago and asked the convicts to surrender to the authorities within two weeks.

The Hindu men were convicted in 2008 of rape and murder. They were released in 2022 after serving 14 years in prison.

The victim, who is now in her 40s, was pregnant when she was brutally gang-raped in 2002 in western Gujarat state during communal rioting that was some of India’s worst religious violence with over 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, killed.

Seven members of the woman’s family, including her 3-year-old daughter, were killed during the riots. The Associated Press generally doesn’t identify victims of sexual assault.

The men were eligible for remission of their sentence under a policy that was in place at the time of their convictions. At the time of their release, officials in Gujarat, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party holds power, had said the convicts were granted remission because they had completed over 14 years in jail.

A revised policy adopted in 2014 by the federal government prohibits remission release for those convicted of certain crimes, including rape and murder.

Following the release of the convicts, the victim had filed a petition with the Supreme Court, saying “the en masse premature release of the convicts… has shaken the conscience of the society.”

The 2002 riots have long hounded Modi, who was Gujarat’s top elected official at the time, amid allegations that authorities allowed and even encouraged the bloodshed. Modi has repeatedly denied having any role and the Supreme Court has said it found no evidence to prosecute him.


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