Next Digital trading halted after Jimmy Lai’s assets frozen

HONG KONG — The Hong Kong stock exchange on Monday halted the trading of Next Digital shares, days after authorities froze assets belonging to its founder Jimmy Lai.

Next Digital said in a filing that it requested the halt after authorities announced that it had frozen Lai’s assets Friday. Next Digital published pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily, and the company was founded by Lai, its controlling shareholder.

The freeze comes as Lai and nine other pro-democracy activists appeared in court Monday, facing charges related to inciting others to take part in an unauthorized assembly in October 2019.

Lai is currently serving a 14-month prison sentence for his role in two separate unauthorized assemblies in 2019. He is also under investigation by the national security department for allegedly colluding with foreign powers and endangering national security.