Lai See

Annells denies reports of investigations

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 August, 2013, 3:02am

We see that Hong Kong-based tax consultant Deborah Annells, in an updated statement on her company website, claims that "contrary to recent reports in the Hong Kong media" her professional conduct is not being investigated by Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA), nor by the British business association, the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP).

Annells, it will be recalled, is the founder and managing director of AzureTax, and was last month found to have committed six instances of dishonesty by the disciplinary tribunal of Britain's Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) and was expelled.

We reported recently that both these organisations had started preliminary enquiries to see if she had a case to answer. If they find there is a case they then commence a disciplinary investigation. STEP will conclude its initial investigation in early September, while the HKICPA is understood to be holding a Professional Conduct Committee meeting next month which will consider her case.

In her latest statement she implies that her staff was at fault for "some actions "which were not in accordance with client instructions".

She claims that: "We have reviewed and overhauled all our internal procedures to ensure similar situations will not reoccur."

However, the CIOT findings clearly relate to her personal dishonesty in her use of trust funds. Furthermore, two of the six charges in which she was found to have acted dishonestly include submitting "two applications to add an Azure service company as a bank signatory to a client company's bank account without the knowledge of their owners".

Annells denies she acted dishonestly. In her updated website statement she also says that: "Importantly not a single client lost any money as a result of what happened."

In the case of the complaint to the CIOT this is true, but only because Annells was sued by her client.

One piece of information Annells does not include in her recent statement is that she is still on police bail having been arrested in December 2011, though not yet charged.


Not looking so bright

A recent piece in the Financial News, which is published by the People's Bank of China, about Tang Shuangning, has had people scratching their heads in puzzlement.

Tang is chairman of the China Everbright Group, which has been in the news recently for the trading chaos it inflicted on the Shanghai Stock Exchange last week by its securities arm, and the third attempt by China Everbright Bank to list on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Also it has emerged that Everbright is embroiled in a US Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into whether JP Morgan hired the children of powerful mainland officials to win lucrative deals in the mainland. One of the hirings included Tang's son who once worked for JP Morgan's Hong Kong office.

However, these issues were eerily avoided by Financial News which instead waxed lyrically about Tang's expert knowledge of ancient Chinese texts and poems and his expertise in calligraphy.

The takeaway from his appearance in this official publication appears to be that despite the troubles besetting China Everbright Group, Tang is okay.


Great British baby event

The British consulate has wasted little time in cashing in on the recent birth of the royal baby who rejoices in the title of His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge. His Royal Highness will be one month old today and the consulate-general is hosting the Great British Baby Event."

This is not as the title might suggest an invitation for British babies to assemble at the consulate, but rather as it says in a statement: "We will be exclusively showcasing the best of British baby products from UK companies and Hong Kong retailers."

This we are told is "a must for those who are interested in what His New Royal Highness and babies of celebrities are wearing and using, and for mothers on the lookout for new innovative baby products".

Some of the "highlights" include the baby oil used by the Duchess of Cambridge, and a brand of baby paraphernalia which is popular with no less than David Beckham. A must-see event.

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