The former chief executive of a Hong Kong-listed wine company has been arrested for allegedly stealing and auctioning off $3.2 million worth of liquor. Authorities said the liquor, which includes wines, Japanese sake and spirits, was stolen from a mainland collector.

Police arrested Joseph Leung Chi-kin, the former head of Major Holdings. Police said Friday that the 42-year-old, who resigned from his company in June, was accused of stealing 489 bottles of expensive liquor.

Sources said a mainland collector reported the theft after Leung failed to return part of her collection. It had an average price of $6,500 a bottle. Authorities said they were still trying to track down the liquor.

Police said the public, particularly wine collectors, should be wary of buying goods from unknown sources. Police said buyers that think the goods are stolen should call them immediately.

Police said those who are caught buying could be charged with handling stolen goods. Those found guilty could face a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

Police sources said some of the bottles had already been sold through various auctions over the past few months. The 489 bottles were part of a collection of 906 different types owned by a Hong Kong resident who now lives in the mainland. Part of the collection was entrusted to Leung after the refrigerators they were stored in broke. Sources said Leung had the collection stored in a warehouse.

One of the owner's assistants who was taking stock of the collection noticed that some bottles were missing. Leung gave the assistant various excuses for the missing bottles.

Shortly after Leung quit Major Holding, 417 bottles of liquor were returned to the assistant but 489 others remained missing. The assistant filed a police complaint on behalf of his employer.

Last week, the Tuen Mun district crime squad raided Leung's home in Yau Me Tei. Police seized personal property including smartphones, a tablet and personal computer.

Major Holdings said it knew nothing of Leung's activities. The company said the bottles were never stored in its facilities.

"The incident is personal to Leung and is not expected to have any effect on the group's business or operation," the company said.