Apple Daily's Jimmy Lai was denied bail on Thursday after appearing in West Kowloon Court charged with fraud, with the case not due to be heard again until April 16.
The prosecution claimed Lai has spent much of his time outside Hong Kong in recent years and has "no local connections". He would have been likely to abscond, it alleged.
Lai and two senior executives from Next Digital are accused of using the company's headquarters in Tseung Kwan O for purposes not permitted by the lease signed with Hong Kong Science Park in 1995.
The prosecution alleges that Lai, administrative director Wong Wai-keung and chief operating officer Royston Chow allowed another company owned by the tycoon to run businesses from the headquarters, saving the firms HK$20 million in rent over more than two decades.
Unlike Lai, Wong and Chow were released on bail following Thursday morning's hearing, during which the prosecution said it needed more time to look at relevant bank accounts and transaction records.
Chief Magistrate Victor So – who is among those designated to handle national security cases – set bail for Wong and Chow at HK$100,000 and HK$200,000 respectively, ordering them not to leave Hong Kong.
The three men were detained on Wednesday after reporting to police following their arrests back in August by officers from the force's National Security Department.
Prosecutors said although the trio face fraud charges at the moment, there is still a chance they could be charged with offences under the national security law.