Couple involved with carnival face HK$177m suit

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 March, 2007, 12:00am

The couple involved in the organisation of the carnival occupying the Tamar site in Admiralty are being sued for more than HK$177 million. The money was allegedly paid to them from a company that had run the event in previous years.

William Stevens and his wife, Tracey, as well as their company, UK Funfairs, are the subject of three writs filed in the High Court last month. The writs were filed on behalf of World Carnival, a joint venture firm being wound up, in which UK Funfairs was a 50 per cent shareholder.

The writs seek the return of money that was allegedly paid from World Carnival to the Stevens or UK Funfairs without adequate explanation.

Mr Stevens has been sued for HK$13.7 million arising from 10 transactions, Mrs Stevens for HK$96.6 million and UK Funfairs for HK$66.6 million. Liquidator Bruno Arboit, managing partner of business recovery and insolvency at Baker Tilly Hong Kong, said the transactions appear to lack sufficient supporting documentation.

A number of the transactions were very large. An allegedly undocumented HK$10 million 'interim dividend' was paid to UK Funfairs on October 23, 2003, and on August 22, 2004, an 'income share' payment was made to UK Funfairs for HK$26.6 million. That same day, Mr Stevens was allegedly paid HK$941,619, a transaction the liquidators also say lacks supporting documentation.

Also of interest to investigators of World Carnival's collapse are any links between the Stevens and Hong Kong World Carnival, which now operates the fair at Admiralty.

A spokeswoman for Hong Kong World Carnival said it had nothing to do with World Carnival or UK Funfairs. However, the company's website lists Billy Stevens as general manager. Tracey Stevens was involved in an administrative capacity, the spokeswoman said.

The Hong Kong World Carnival, or the AIA Hong Kong World Carnival, was originally planned to run for 101 days from December 15 at the Tamar site. Last week the organiser announced that the carnival would be extended for a month until April 23, citing good public response.

A Samantha Stevens, who once listed UK Funfair's office as her residential address, is listed as a director of Hong Kong World Carnival. A source said she is the couple's daughter. Hong Kong World Carnival registration documents, which have since been amended, show her residential address as identical to the Wan Chai mailing address of Mr and Mrs Stevens and UK Funfairs. That address corresponds to corporate services firm Arios Micah Resources' office.

The Stevens did not return calls.

World Carnival was placed under a winding up order by Mr Justice Arif Barma in the Court of First Instance in April last year.

Charles Cook, solicitor for World Carnival, said he had received correspondence indicating the Stevens and UK Funfairs would defend the action if it proceeded.