It sounds like a scene from the classic 1993 movie The Fugitive, and Leon Li was doing his best to emulate Dr Richard Kimble when he managed to give police the slip by climbing through a toilet ceiling.
That was the second time. The 34-year old Li, who is now known as Dr Leon, first got away three years ago after being arrested in Hong Kong for the possession of a fake ID card; on that occasion he was given bail and simply used his mainland Chinese passport to disappear abroad.
A Cambridge University graduate who specializes in reproductive medicine, Li lived under the name of Li Yihua so he could stay one step ahead of police, and was able to continue running his business.
Originally from Liaoning province, Li is the legal representative of 18 companies, including eight in China, with a total capital of 100 million yuan. He owns almost 20% of China Environmental Technology Holdings, and netted HK$175 million (US$22.3 million) after selling 40% of Pacific Fertility Institute Holding Company in 2017.
On Friday, shares in China Environmental Technology fell 49% on a turnover of HK$23.6 million (US$3 million), with 422 million shares, or 20% of the total issued capital, changing hands.
Although he kept a low profile, Li was not entirely invisible. In April, he showed up at a conference on test tube babies as the chief medical consultant for one company, identifying himself as “Dr Leon”.
Then Li started to get complacent. On Wednesday he calmly strolled into Hong Kong International Airport using a passport issued in his real name, was promptly arrested and taken to Central police station.
That should have been the end of the story, but Li persuaded police to take him to Queen Mary Hospital after complaining that he had a stomach ache because he was “suffering from the HIV virus”. Li asked to go to the washroom several times and managed to wriggle his way through the ceiling at 8am Friday. His handcuffs had been removed.
Aided by two mainland Chinese, Li made it to Wanchai, where he brazenly checked into a five-star hotel. Police spotted him in hotel security footage, laid an ambush and he was nabbed. Li was taken back to the hospital and his HIV tests came up negative.
The full story of Li’s exploits will be unveiled at Eastern Magistrates’ Court Tuesday – assuming he is still in captivity at that time.