The Next Digital Ltd media firm of Hong Kong declared on Sunday its intention to wind it up and resigned its management board to facilitate the process.
Its owner, Jimmy Lai, has been behind bars since the police officers raided its newsroom to investigate whether articles violated the Hong Kong national security law introduced last year.
Its remaining four directors would step down, to best “protect shareholders, creditors, workers and former employees.” The administrators are Chairman informatics Yut Kin, gladiator Gordon Crovitz, Mark Lambert Clifford and Lam Chung Yan.
As part of the National Security Investigation, the company’s capital assets have been frozen and its shares have been suspended since 17 June. The media company reported to the Hong Kong stock exchange late on Sunday that ordinary winding-up would serve the good interests of shareholders, creditors, employees and others.
It was hoped that the remaining board members’ resignations would lead to the Hong Kong government allowing liquidators to approve payments that directors were prohibited from approving, such as payments to creditors and former employees.
It also expressed hope that liquidators would be able to complete value-creating transactions that would result in funds being distributed to creditors.
According to the corporation, the Hong Kong government has never stated specific articles published by Apple Daily allegedly violated the national security statute, and the ambiguity has resulted in numerous resignations, including those responsible for the publicly traded company’s regulatory compliance tasks.
Critics of the national security law, which went into effect in June 2020, claim it has been used to stifle dissent and limit fundamental freedoms, particularly those of the media, in the former British colony, which was returned to Chinese authority in 1997.
Authorities in Hong Kong have denied that rights and freedoms, including freedom of the press, are being eroded, but have said that acts endangering China’s national security have crossed a red line. Law enforcement actions, according to security officials, are based on evidence and have nothing to do with an individual’s background or job.