At approximately 3:30am on Friday, less than five hours before a scheduled High Court hearing, Yida Zhang through his company Yida International Investment Antigua Ltd , wired more than US$4 million (four million ninety-eight thousand six hundred twenty-eight and ninety-one hundred to be exact) to the bank account of Watts, Dorsett, Hewlett Law – the law firm representing him.
In the court hearing planned for 8am this morning, Dr. David Dorsett, the attorney representing Zhang, told the court that his client had made a significant payment from a bank in Hong Kong to a bank in Antigua and had copied the proof to the court’s clerk.
At around 3:36am, a copy of what he called the “transmission report” was also sent via Whatsapp to attorneys Andrew O’Kola and Thomas Roe KC, who represent Lux Locations owners Nadia and Sam Dyson.
Dorsett said that the amount should satisfy the judgment debt in full and is inclusive of payment for a November 13 cost order which was issued by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC). The amount, which the Dysons’ attorneys say is short by about $400,000, is enough to keep Zhang out of prison and tentatively quashes a High Court order which froze his worldwide assets.
However, Zhang may still face imprisonment if he is unable to pay the outstanding amount by December 31, 2023.
Lux’s attorneys argue that amount offered is not full settlement
Interest and fees had brought what should have been a US$3million payment to approximately US$4.2million.“There have been more since then,” remarked Roe.
Whilst Zhang transferred a significant amount of what had been owed to the Dysons for almost a decade early Friday morning, counsel Roe claimed that the settlement was short. He shared that the cost ordered by the Privy Council amounted to just over US$206,000 which increased the total owed for the settlement and appeals costs. The court took a break to calculate the correct costs and returned more than an hour later. Both the claimant and the defendant’s lawyers agreed that Zhang should pay a further US$440,2674.62. Zhang said he would pay the amount by December 31, 2023.
Counsel Roe, uneasy about the promise to pay, argued that the Dysons had heard similar promises before and told the judge that they wanted to proceed with their application for imprisonment.
Roe asked the judge to hear the judgment summons, make an order imprisoning Zhang but to suspend it and to return on December 17 for review. “It’s never been a question that Zhang isn’t good for the money,” he remarked, as he petitioned the judge to take “a very firm line” against the investor.
In response, attorney Dorsett committed to having the US$4 million paid to the chambers of Lux’s lawyer and to have the balance paid by December 31. “If there is a default, make your case straight to 1735 or whatever you want to do,” he told the judge.
The Judge’s Ruling
Yida Zhang was called to the stand along with his translator, Jerry Liu and was instructed of the court’s order.
Justice Rene Williams told Zhang that he is committed to prison for 14 days but he will not go to prison if his lawyer pays the US$4,098,628.91 by November 24, 2023. He has to pay the balance by December 31, 2023.
The Dyson’s brought their own translator Juvol Desouza who stood next to Zhang and his translator to verify the information, wanting not to repeat a previous situation where Zhang told the court that he did not understand what was told to him.
“The next time he comes to court, if necessary, will be on January 26, 2024. The cost of Friday’s hearing is US$1,000,” the judge continued.
Zhang, in response, joked that he would be sure to pay so that he would not have to return to court. He also indicated to the judge that he understood the whole order.
The Chinese investor was originally set to appear in court before Justice Rene Williams for a judgment summons where he would have been required to make a case as to why he should not be imprisoned after Lux Locations filed an application in court in March requesting that the investor be committed to His Majesty’s Prison (HMP) for deliberate non-payment.
Zhang, who is the principal investor in the Antigua and Barbuda Special Economic Zone (ABSEZ), owes directors Nadia and Sam Dyson for assisting him to acquire land for the ABSEZ. The sale amounted to US$60 million of which the Dysons’ were contractually owed 9% of the purchase price.
The Dyson’s lawyer Andrew O’Kola told IPB “I am pleased for my clients in respect of today’s outcome and they stand ready to receive the benefit of the Court Order”.
Nadia Dyson reserved further comment until the transaction is complete while attorney Dorsett declined an interview saying “This matter is finished, there is nothing more to say”.