Hong Kong| 49-year old Dingxiang Loeng, a well-known and very flamboyant Chinese businessman, died this morning in his suite of the Island Shangri-La hotel during a reception he was holding for his birthday. According to some of the 217 witnesses of the tragedy, it is while opening a champagne bottle that the billionaire was hit violently in the temple by the cork, an accident that caused a fatal brain hemorrhage.
The accident took place during a sumptuous party that was being held to celebrate Mr. Loeng’s 50th birthday, which would have taken place on August 2nd. Nearly 200 guests were present, including most of Hong Kong’s political and economic elite, when they celebrated, after a brief speech, opened a bottle of champagne and was hit violently in the head by the cork. Many witnesses actually laughed at first, greatly underestimating the severity of the injury, but an eerie silence rapidly overcame the crowd as Mr. Loeng remained unconscious and the medical staff was urged on the site. Despite all the efforts of the paramedics, his death was confirmed less than twenty minutes later while he was being carried to the hospital.
Many of the guests who had laughed at first, were visibly emotional after the announcement of Mr. Loeng’s death.
Rated the 51st richest in Hong Kong according to the Forbes business magazine, Mr. Loeng was an eccentric real estate tycoon who made a fortune in some very controversial deals in the years preceding the transfer of sovereignty of the former British colony to China. Even if his fortune is estimated at more than 1 billion dollars, the Hong Kong businessman was always better known for his various antics and legal problems than for his economic activities.
He was notorious for his drinking habit, drug problems, and bad temper, having been arrested more than thirty times over the years for various charges, including public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, driving under the influence of alcohol, and assault on a hotel doorman.
According to the police, the champagne bottle could have been a Chinese counterfeit, an explanation that seems more than plausible for the exceptionally high level of carbon dioxide contained in it. The problem of counterfeit alcohol has become a major concern for the Chinese authorities over the last few years, as the number of forged liquors and wines has been soaring. Many experts estimate that as much as 80 percent of the alcohol in most Chinese cities is fake, mostly using counterfeit branding, where spoiled, low-grade bottles of wine are sold as the real deal, yielding unreal margins.
The owners and staff of the hotel refused to comment on the event or the accusation of selling counterfeit alcohol.