25 Years Ago

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 31 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 31 January, 1999, 12:00am

HONGKONG (February 2): THE 'missing millions' uncovered in the audit of the Government's books were advances to firms to tide them over 'difficulties' during a run on the banks in the riot-torn mid-60s.

Last night it was learned that the Government hopes to recover two-thirds of the $19.8 million handed out in two massive cash advances and pin-pointed in the audit report published this week.

It also became known that the $75,00 worth of cash advances to two British civil servants seconded here six years ago was to cover them for their dual liability in Britain and Hongkong.

A spokesman said the firms were companies in which the Government had 'some responsibility' to help over 'supposedly temporary difficulties'.

He was in financial difficulties and the money was advanced to enable him to pay a sub-contractor's labour bill.

The problems were so acute, it is believed, that had the money not been advanced, the contractor could have gone 'broke'.

The Director of Audit, Mr Gordon Lythe, said in his report that much of the money was not likely to be recoverable.

The reason, a Government spokesman said, was that the 'difficulties proved less temporary than was envisaged at the time'.