Continental King Lung (五洲景龍) and Legarleon (利家安)

York Lo: Continental King Lung (五洲景龍) and Legarleon (利家安)

Continental King Lung (CKL) and Legarleon were two leading futures brokerages in HKactive in the late 1970s and early 1980swhich built up extensive global networks of branches and clients within a very short period and the earlier diversified into real estate, movie and records production and electronics before shuttering its futures business amid allegations of fraud and money laundering while the latter expanded into stocks, real estate and insurance before retreating after incurring significant losses in futures trading in the late 1980s. The two groups were partners and CKL chief Peter Yip served on the board of Legarleon.

Continental King Lung

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CKL chiefs Peter Yip, Carl Ching, Louis Chiu with guests Praphas Charusathien, Cham Siu-leun and So Yiu-cho at the 2nd anniversary celebration of CKL in 1979 (WKYP, 1979-11-4)

The Continental King Lung group (hereafter refer to as CKL) was established in November 1977 by Peter Yip Shut-yuen (葉述袁),an expert in futures trading who was president of the group and supported by Carl Ching Meng-ky (程萬琦) and Louis Chiu Sheen-charm (趙善簪). All three were in their 30s at the time with Ching having the highest profile having been active in the basketball circle since the 1960s, first elected chairman of the HK Basketball Association in 1969 and Yip was also named honorary president of the group in November 1978. (KSEN, 1978-11-17) Prior to starting CKL, Ching worked for NCR and Dodwell and operated his own stock brokerage while Chiu came from Macau and worked as sub-manager of his family business Sang Loong Construction while selling insurance on the side.

CFK, which specialized in commodity trading, expanded very rapidly and by the end of 1979, the firm already had branches in London, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Taipei. The over 1000 guests at its 2nd anniversary celebration at the Ocean City restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui in November 1979includedThai military leader PraphasCharusathien (1912-1997, commander in chief of the Royal Thai Army from 1964-73 and Minister of Interior from 1958-73), Deputy Defense Minister of Singapore and HK business leaders such as Cham Siu-leun, Cecil Chao, Timothy Fok and Chan Yat-san and businessmen from Malaysia and the Philippines, highlighting the extensive network of the firm. (WKYP, 1979-11-4)

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Left: CKL chairman Peter Yip in 1983 (WKYP, 1983-1-26); Right: Article and picture of futures seminar organized by CKL in 1982. Right to left: Carl Ching, Peter Yip, head of IMM, Jurgen Nowak. (WKYP, 1982-10-22)

By the third anniversary in November 1980, CKL’s branch network had expanded to also include New York and Los Angeles in the US, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines in Southeast Asia, Switzerland in Europe and various countries in the Middle East such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Kuwait and the guests at its anniversary ball included consuls from various countries and also Marcos associate HerminioDisini from the Philippines and a prince from the UAE. (WKYP, 1980-11-5)

In the Middle East, CKL established Arab Continental Commodities, a joint venture in Bahrain in 1980 and later established Qatar Arab Continental Trading (QACT) in Qatar, the first commodity trading broker in the nation. CKL also formed Bellink International with G&C Bullion in Singapore in 1980 and took over G&C’s membership at the Gold Exchange of Singapore and trade in the HK and US markets for Singaporean clients through the CKL network. (Business Times, 1980-1-8) At its peak, CKL had operations in 50 countries across the globe.

In 1981, Peter Yip acquired a seat at International Monetary Market (IMM), the financial futures trading platform of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) for US$130,000 and in October 1982, CKL organized a seminar on futures trading at the Shangri-La Hotel in HK featuring the head of IMM. During the seminar, CKL director Jurgen H. Nowak promoted the development of financial futures such as index futures in Hong Kong.

With its profits from futures trading, CKL invested millions to start Continental King Lung Movie Production Ltd and Continental Century Motion Picture & Distribution (五洲世纪) in the early 1980s with Yuen Sin-gan (袁善根), Lee Hong-yu (李匡宇) and film director Dennis Yu Wan-kwong (余允抗) in charge. (WKYP, 1981-11-10)One of the first films CKL produced was the crime drama “Interpol” (橫掃魚蛋檔) which at first had trouble getting through the censors given its provocative content but latter the producers were able to convince the censors that the purpose of the film was to reflect reality and not exploitation. (KSDN, 1982-11-9). In November 1982, CKL announced grand plans to the press, stating that the firm would produce 6-8 films in 1983, some of which would be filmed in Europe and the US. The firm was also one of the first in HK to explore the South American market, forming a partnership with the former military chief of Uruguay with plans to distribute its films in the South American market and signed a three years consulting contract with famed Latin American cinematographer. (KSEN, 1982-11-16; 1982-11-19)

Movies produced and distributed by CKL during its short life included the comedies “The Comedy” (馬後砲) and “Beloved Daddy” both starring Kent Cheng and “The Company” starring Liu Wai-hung, the drama film “Disasters” (黃禍) starring Alan Tang Kwong-wing and the horror film “Brutal Sorcery” (毒蠱) starring Newton Lai Hon-chi which was partly filmed in Thailand. (WKYP, 1983-3-6). The firm also produced two films in Taiwan – “Seven Foxes” (七隻狐狸) starring Sun Yueh, Sally Yeh and Brigitte Lin and “My Mother” starring Ko Chun-hsiung and Chen Chen.

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Left: Logo of CKL Movie Production from one of its opening credit; Right: poster for Continental Century’s first film “The Comedy” directed by Dennis Yu and starring Kent Cheng (hkmdb)

In September 1983, CKL established its record production division which recorded artists such as Dominic Chow (周啟生) and Willie Fung. The next month, Continental Century announced plans to form a theater chain in North America which comprised of Cathay Theatre in LA, Sun Sing Theatre (formerly Pantages) in Vancouver, Golden Capital Theatre in Toronto and others to distribute HK and Taiwanese films. (WKYP, 1983-10-26)

Aside from films and records, CKL invested in many other businesses. In January 1983, CKL partnered up with a cognac and champagne manufacturer in France to acquire a large plot of land in New Mexico in the US to produce grapes for wine production. (WKYP, 1983-1-26) The same month, Peter Yip received medals from two different organizations in France. (WKYP, 1983-1-18)

In March 1983, Yip and Ching went to New York to plan for a new head office for the Americas for CKL and during the trip they received awards from the Economic Development Board and the president of the Queens borough. (KSEN, 1983-3-23) But troubles beganin the US when the Seattle and Vancouver offices of King Lung Commodities closed in January 1984 and its principals Mark Chow and Peter Cheung disappeared along with US$3-5 million of client’s money. Yip was a director and officer of King Lung and his pictures appeared in their brochures although he denied that either he or CKL in HK had ties with the firm. In July, Yip was expelled by the CME and the New York Commodity Exchange which also fined him US$10,000 related to the complaints filed by the investors in Seattle and Vancouver.

In October 1984, a bombshell was dropped on CKL in a testimony given by staff investigator David Williams to the US President’s Commission on Organized Crime which accused the group of fraud and money laundering and being controlled by Eddie Chan Tse-chiu (陳子超), the head of On Leong Tong in the US. (Organized Crime of Asian Origins: Record of Hearing, Oct 23-25 1984)Chan was a former HK police sergeant andhe testified in a 1967 trial against 39 individuals in Kowloon who were accused of running a numbers racket in HK during which he explained the ins and outs of a Chinese numbers game. (KSDN, 1967-2-25) In July 1968, he joined the football committee of the Police Sports Club, taking one of the spots vacated by Tsang Kai-wing, the father of entertainer Eric Tsang and maternal article of future Financial Service Secretary Frederick Ma. (WKYP, 1968-7-3) In 1975, Chan moved to New York where he becamevice chairman of United Orient Bank (東方銀行), which CKL’s Carl Ching was also a director and co-founder of in 1981. Within three days of the hearing, depositors withdrew US$6 million from the bank which had US$89 million in capital and Chan stepped down and later fled the US. (KSDN, 1984-11-11) In January 1985, the CME levied a $100,000 fine on Peter Yip for failing to produce records for their investigation into the complaints from Seattle. (Chicago Tribune, 1985-1-11)

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Eddie Chan (standing center with mustache) leading a 30 people delegation of the East Coast Sports Club to participate in the Chiang Kai Shek cup soccer competition in 1978 (KSEN, 1978-11-6)

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Left: Carl Ching (standing) delivering a speech at the HK Tae Kwon Do competition in 1984 as chairman of the HK Tae Kwon Do Association. Seated from left to right: vice president Wong Wai-hing (黃偉慶), president Peter Yip, vice president Ben Munford (former head of OCTB), honorary president who was Chief Superintendent of Police (KSEN, 1984-3-30); Right: Wong Wai-man (left), the new boss of CKL in 1985 at the press conference to discuss the future directions of the group (WKYP, 1985-4-3) 

In February 1985, a group of businessmen led by Wong Wai-man (黃偉民) took over CKL and shut down its futures and gold trading business. At the time, the group had a factory in Tsuen Wan manufacturing computer disk drives and other electronics products and had interests in freight forwarding, logistics and financial services (finance and insurance) in addition to the movie and records business described earlier. The new owners organized a press conference at the group’s head office on the top floor of the Peninsula Centre stating that the firm had $100 million in registered capital and plan to focus more on China trade. This include plans to invest $85 million in a joint venture with the government of Foshan to manufacture computers, videotapes, cassette tapes and quartz watches and another joint venture with mainland entities to distribute and produce movies in the mainland. (WKYP, 1985-4-3; TKP, 1985-4-2)

All the CKL companies in HK had since dissolved – CKL Holdings in 1994, CKL Movie Production, CKL Records, CKL Trading and CKL Shipping in 1996 and CKL Development in 2014.

Of the three principals of CKL, Peter Yip maintained a low profile but continued to do futures trading and his name only appeared in the news once in the past two decades when he was sued by a British trader in 2003 in HK for HK$1.5 million. Carl Chingremains active in basketball circles and became the first Chinese president of FIBA in 2002.Louis Chiu is perhaps the most successful through his Henyep Group (恒興業集團) which is involved in forex, securities and property development across the globe and is known for his philanthropy with his wife Alice Tsang Hok-wan.

Sources (other than what’s cited above):

https://hk.news.appledaily.com/local/daily/article/20030521/3304314

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1985-01-11-8501020945-story.html

http://sports.sina.com.cn/k/2005-04-15/13491508749.shtml

Legarleon

Continental King Lung Image 6 York Lo

Left: presentation of certificates at the 2nd anniversary ball for Legarleon in 1981 (WKYP, 1981-1-9); Right: Lo Kwong-hung presenting check on behalf of Legarleon to Jack Soong who was accepting on behalf of Community Chest in 1982 (WKYP, 1982-2-16)

Legarleonwas founded by Lo Kwong-hung (魯廣雄, also known as Lo Lin-kwong), the eldest of three sons of Lo King-yip (魯敬業), a KMT soldier from the Anhui province who fled to HK in 1949 and opened a towel factory on Shantung Street. After graduation from Wong Shiu Chi Secondary School in 1962, Lo attended the Grantham Training College and worked as a teacher for a while before entering business world in the early 1970s when he became the sales director of Hokkaido Commodity Trading (北海道商品貿易有限公司, incorporated in 1973 and dissolved in 1986) (WKYP, 1974-4-6)

In 1976, Lo formed Legarleon Enterprises (利家安洋行), a trading firm which specialized in the distribution of kitchen hoods including the HCG brand from Taiwan and Airlux brand from France. The firm engaged Shun Hing Advertising (信興廣告), the ad agency affiliated with National/Panasonic distributor Shun Hing Group and organized a competition to pick a Chinese name for Airlux in 1976. The firm received 4000 entries and the winners picked by a panel which included Sing Tao Evening News chief editor Tong Pik-chun (唐碧川) and Kung Sheung Daily News advertising chief Lee Mau-cheung (李茂祥) received prizes. (KSEN, 1976-11-24) The same year, he also formed Legarleon Realties, a real estate agency.

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Top: Lo Kwong-hung as sales director of Hokkaido Commodity Trading handing a sales rep certificate to sales manager YauPui-kee (邱培基) at its monthly meeting at the Furama Hotel (KSEN, 1974-4-4); Bottom: The judging panel for the Chinese name competition for Airlux represented by Legarleon in 1976: right to left: Lee Mau-cheung, Lau Chi-mau from Shun Hing Advertising, Tong Pik-chuen, Pang Kwing-fan (KSEN, 1976-11-24)

In October 1978, Lo incorporated Legarleon Commodities (利家安商品), which formally opened its door in January 1979. He was joined by his younger brothers Lo Ho-yin (魯浩然) and Simon Lo Lin-sing (魯連城). In 1980, Legarleon Insurance and Legarleon Insurance Brokers were established. By the end of that year, Legarleon had branches in Singapore, UAE, Bahrain, London and New York and was making a killing in the trading of gold.

In 1981, Legarleon Realties partnered with the city government of Guangzhou and developed the Xiaogang City residential project in Guangzhou with flats starting at HK$100,000 (or HK$199 per sq ft). (SCJP, 1981-8-12)

By the group’s 3rd anniversary celebration in January 1982, it also had subsidiaries in Saudi Arabiaand San Francisco in addition to the locations listed above.(WKYP, 1982-1-9) The firm hired experts from the US to train its staff and seven of its staff who passed the US commodities trading licensing exams received their certificates during the anniversary celebration.

In 1982, Legarleonhad its futures and securities trading division on the 11th floor of the United Chinese Bank Building in Central andhada second office at the 39th floor of the New World Building in Central to house its finance, insurance and real estate operations.(WKYP, 1982-5-29)

In October 1983, Legarleon hit a bump when the commodities trading license of its director Pang Kwing-fan (彭烱蕃) was revoked by the HK regulator for improper handling of trades placed by two Singaporean firms to the New York Mercantile Exchange and the trading rights of Legarleon on the HK Commodity Exchange was also suspended. (KSEN, 1983-10-26) Legarleon clarified to the press that this was an individual issue and the firm was working to resume its trading activities on the Exchange while business outside of the Exchange were conducted as usual. (WKYP, 1983-10-28)

In 1984, Legarleon Realties was the listing agent in HK for four parcels of land in Beverly Hills for development of houses (KSDN, 1984-4-25)

According to Simon Lo, Legarleon suffered significant losses during the crash of 1987 and his older brothers retreated from the futures business and left for the US. Most of the original Legarleon companies in HK were dissolved in the 1990s: Legarleon Enterprises in 1995, Legarleon Holdings, Legarleon Insurance Brokers and Legarleon Credit in 1996, Legarleon Insurance in 1998 and finallyLegarleon Commodities in 2004.

In 1986, Lo Kwong-hung and Simon Lo joined the board of Troika Securities (三高), a firm originally formed by three industrialists in the early 1970s and was taken over by Tai Fook Finance controlled by the family of Alex’s friend Henry Cheng Kar-shun in 1980. In 1988, Troika was renamed Tai Fook Securities (大福證券) and Simon Lo was placed in charge as vice chairman. He recruited Wong Shiu-hoi from GDI to lead the firm and recruited his brother’s classmate Chan Wing-luk as head of research.Tai Fook became one of the leading local brokerages in HK, went public in 1996 and was acquired by Haitong Securities in 2010.

In the 2000s, LoKwong-hung returned to HK and China and established Legarleon Securities (sold in 2014 and now known as Realord Asia Pacific Securities), Legarleon Futures, Legarleon Wealth Management and Legarleon Precious Metal (renamed Legarleon Bullion in 2017) in HK in 2008 and Leanda Precious Metal Trading in Tianjin. In 2014, he established the LoKwong-hung Scholarships at the economics department at Peking University. He had also served on the board of the Chinese Manufacturers Associaton in HK.

Sources (other than those cited above):

Next Magazine, 2001-2-22 (https://articles.zkiz.com/?id=21898)

This article was first posted on 25th January 2021.

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