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The Return of Law Kin Chong


Source: Folha de S. Paulo


Topic: The Ballad of Law Kin Chong

Source: Folha de S. Paulo

Excerpt: C. Brayton

Like some character from the Three Penny Opera, black marketeer Law Kin Chong continues to reign supreme in the world of  commercial real estate in popular neighborhoods.

I took a lot of notes on the story at the time.  Start here.

Pointed to as one of the major smugglers in Brazil–charges for which he has not yet faced trial — the Chinese-Brazilian Law Kin Chong, 54, has expanded his retail empire since leaving prison in 2008 after serving time for attempted bribery of the president of a commission investigating him, in 2003.

The city legislature launched a probe into Chong’s businesses in 2004.

Now, more than a hundred properties purchased by Law Kin in eight São Paulo neighborhoods harbor a scheme for the illegal sale of merchandise, according to city inspectors and police who monitor his activities.

Through his lawyer, Law says that he rents out these properties and has nothing to do with the commercial activity carried on by his tenants at those locations.

Acquired since Law’s release from prison, the properties consist of warehouses, parking lots and commercial properties in the areas of 25 de Março, Brás, Pari, Mooca, Liberdade, Jardins, Morumbi and the Avenida Paulista. According to a search through city registry offices, their cumulative value is R$ 80.2 million.

Most of the assets (R$ 59.5 million) were acquired by the Grupo Paulista de Empreendimentos e Particippações, the flagship of the group. The company was founded by Law and his wife, Hwu Su Chiu, known as Miriam, with R$ 70 million in capital.

The remainder consists of Brasshopping Participações, Ocho Rios Empreendimentos e Participações and Marketing Consultoria Ltda.

Law’s principal partners are his wife and two sons, Thomas and Henrique Law. Both live in Ocho Rios with their mother, who partners in other businesses with her husband.

According to federal police, when Law and his wife were arrested, Law’s brother, Julio Law, took over the group. Six months after Law’s imprisonment, in 2004, however, Julio was also arrested with 18 tons of deluxe home appliances from China. The undocumented cargo was allegedly to be transported to warehouses with ties to the family. With that, Law handed over command of his interests to third parties until his release.

The brothers inherited their father’s business acumen. “Seu Chung,” as he was known, arrived in Brazil in 1963 and set up a company that according to tax authorities never declared its taxes. He later moved to Ciudad Del Leste, from which he transferred US$ 1 million to his son in 1994. With these funds, Law began to build his empire.

The model remains the same: the owner divides up space into boxes (shops) or depositories which are quickly rented out. Because the buildings are favorably located, there is always a line of interested tenants.

For this reason, Law charges up to R$ 50,000 just to sign the rental contract. The Folha discovered that a shopping mall like the 25 de Março moves almost R$ 10 million in rent per month.