Bank lets witnesses be absent, court told

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 May, 2012, 12:00am


DBS Bank (Hong Kong) allows customer relations managers to sign as witnesses to bank documents even if not present at meetings with customers, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday.

A customer relations manager said it was 'general practice' to require them to acknowledge the execution of the documents even if they were not there to explain things to the clients, a procedure that a defence senior counsel described as 'a lie'.

DBS is suing wealthy Beijing investor Hao Ting for more than HK$90 million she lost on accumulators during the credit crunch five years ago. Hao invested in accumulators through her company, San-Hot HK Industrial.

On the fourth day of the hearing, DBS manager Santos Wong Wai-yip admitted he was absent from at least two meetings with Hao in 2007. But he signed several bank documents indicating his presence and to declare he had fully explained to her the banking arrangement before she signed the documents, he said. His colleagues had liaised with Hao.

Russell Coleman SC, for Hao, said: 'Your signature was to confirm that the risk disclosure statement had been explained to your customer. The document was signed by Hao when you were not present. But you signed the document to confirm your presence. Is it bank policy that requires you to lie on documents?'

The counsel said his client did not receive a clear and full explanation of the risk of her being a guarantor for her company - that if San-Hot as the investor failed to pay, she had to take the responsibility.

Nor was there any written evidence to show Hao had sought independent legal advice before she signed the guarantee, although the bank should have asked her to.

Jat Sew-tong SC, for the bank, argued that those documents were only standard forms that should not be subject to challenge.

An accumulator is a high-risk vehicle by which investors buy a security, currency or commodity at regular intervals at a fixed price below the prevailing market value for the term of the contract. They make money if the market stays stable or rises but if it falls steeply, losses can be huge.

The hearing continues today before Mr Justice Jason Pow Wing-nin.