The husband of Veronica Yip Yuk-hing, a former Hong Kong actress best known for her roles in adult films, has filed for bankruptcy in the US where he runs a vast wholesale food and supermarket business.
Grocery tycoon Jeffrey Wu made the application at the US Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of New York on Wednesday, owing nearly US$50 million out of his own pocket, according to the filing.
The 56-year-old, also known as Myint J. Kyaw, owns Mon Chong Loong Trading Corp, one of the largest oriental dry food wholesaler and distributors in the US, as well as a major Chinese grocery store, the Hong Kong Supermarket, with branches in the northeast and California.
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As well as filing for personal bankruptcy with debts of US$48.5 million, Wu also applied to put three of his companies – property developers owing US$15.3 million between them – into administration, according to documents filed to the court.
Wu’s supermarkets were reportedly hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, with shoppers confined to their homes for several months.
Additionally, Hong Kong Supermarket was among three shops in New York to be fined for excessively inflating prices to cash in on the health crisis. The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection fined the store US$69,500 for overcharging for supplies including face masks, gloves and tissues.
There are a number of individual creditors on Wu’s personal bankruptcy filing, including Bank of America, Chang & Son Enterprises, Haymarket Capital and Bluestone Group.
Among them, Bank of America alone held loans worth more than US$20 million.
The Burma-born business mogul holds a huge property portfolio in New York. The three companies for which he declared bankruptcy are developers in the retail, office, residential and industrial sectors.
Apartments at one of Wu’s projects, the 99-unit Victoria Towers built in 2014 in the Queens district of New York, change hands for up to US$1 million a piece, according to local property portal StreetEasy.
The properties covered by the unpaid loans include a 100,000 square-foot office and retail building, 50 remaining units in Victoria Tower, a 28,000 square-foot commercial property and a 184,000 square-foot industrial complex, all in New York.
Wu’s lenders filed their notices of creditors’ interests in his properties in January 2018, according to the court documents.
He received a US$109 million refinancing loan from investment company Bluestone Group in 2018.
Wu moved to the US from Myanmar when he was nine and founded the Hong Kong Supermarket in 1981.
In 1996, he married former Hong Kong actress and singer Veronica Yip, sometimes referred to as Veronica Ip.
Yip, now 53, was runner-up in the Miss Asia Pageant of 1985 and later starred in some critically-acclaimed hit movies, including Jeffrey Lau’s The Eagle Shooting Heroes and Stanley Kwan’s R ed Rose, White Rose.
However, it was her roles in some sexually themed, adult films in the 1990s that made her a household name in Hong Kong.
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