Huobi’s founder may be the occupant of a US$128 million mansion in Hong Kong’s Kowloon Tong

Li Lin, founder of cryptocurrency exchange Huobi Global, is believed to have rented an ultra-luxury mansion in Hong Kong, as the financial centre woos Chinese players in the industry to boost its status as a virtual asset hub.

The 11,692 square-foot house, which is part of Kerry Properties’ Mont Verra project located in the upscale neighbourhood of Beacon Hill in Kowloon Tong district, was leased earlier this month to a person named Li Lin, according to records on the government’s Land Register. The mansion is estimated to be renting at HK$1.17 million (US$150,000) a month, according to a person familiar with the matter who declined to named.

As part of the “lease with option to purchase” agreement, the tenant has the choice to buy the premises for HK$1 billion during a 90-month leasing period, or renew the tenancy for another three months after it expires, Kerry Properties said. The developer confirmed that the tenant’s name is Li Lin, but declined to reveal his background or nationality.

Huobi founder Li Lin is seen in Beijing in this file photo dated 2014. Photo: Simon Song
The two-storey mansion, the largest of three that was on offer at Mont Verra, comes equipped with a banquet hall, a theatre, an entertainment room, a gymnasium, a library, five maid rooms and a swimming pool. The house, a rarity in the city, was opened for sale by tender last month.

At least three flats in the same project have been sold at prices ranging from HK$240 million to HKS$258 million, according to published transaction records.

Mont Verra sits next to another development by Kerry Properties, Mont Rouge, where Beijing’s national security office in Hong Kong bought a 7,171 square feet villa for a record HK$508 million last year.

Huobi founder Li in October sold all his stakes in the company to Hong Kong-based About Capital Management during a meltdown in the global crypto market.

Huobi has repeatedly denied allegations that Justin Sun, founder of the blockchain and crypto token Tron, purchased a roughly 60 per cent stake in Huobi with US$1 billion through that acquisition deal. Sun has also rejected the speculation.

Huobi, founded in Beijing, was among an early wave of Chinese crypto companies that fled the mainland amid the government’s escalating crackdowns on the industry. In November, the Seychelles-based firm dropped the character for “coin” from its Chinese name.

A view of the Mont Verra residential project at the Beacon Hill neighbourhood in Kowloon Tong. Photo: May Tse

After maintaining a conservative attitude towards cryptocurrencies for years, Hong Kong last autumn announced a high-profile push to become a virtual assets centre.

Part of those efforts include drawing more crypto entrepreneurs and investors from the mainland, where cryptocurrency trading is banned, industry experts have previously told the Post.

The leasing of the Mont Verra mansion comes as the city’s residential property market faces a series of headwinds, including high interest rates, a glut of unsold units and a lack of purchasing power from mainland China, real estate services company JLL said in its midyear property market report released last month.

Home prices fell 1.2 per cent in the second quarter from the previous three months, according to JLL, which expects prices to drop 5 to 10 per cent in the second half, resulting in a total decline of 5 to 8 per cent in the full year.

A four-bedroom luxury home in Hong Kong’s exclusive enclave of Mount Nicholson resold in February at an estimated loss of HK$130 million, 25 per cent below the price in 2019.

Additional reporting by Salina Li

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