• Tue
  • Sep 23, 2014
  • Updated: 10:40pm
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 September, 2013, 3:18am

Why the long wait for an opinion on Anthony Wu?

BIO

Howard Winn has been with the South China Morning Post for two and half years after previous stints as business editor and deputy editor of The Standard, and business editor of Asia Times. His writing has also been published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. He writes the Lai See column which focuses on the lighter side of business.
 

We are wondering what's happened to the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Accountant's(HKICPA) findings on former chairman of the Hospital authority, Anthony Wu Ting-yuk. It's been almost five months since HKICPA's complaint against Wu and two other defendants for professional misconduct was heard, but nothing has been heard since from the chairman of the HKICPA's disciplinary committee, Kumar Ramanathan, who is tasked with preparing the committee's findings. This is the HKICPA's most high profile and its longest-running case. In addition to Wu, the other defendants are Ernst & Young, of which Wu was chairman until December 2005, and Catherine Yen Ka-shun, another senior figure at the accounting firm. The complaint relates to the collapse of New China Hong Kong Group (NCHK), which was founded in 1993 by a consortium of investors from Hong Kong, the mainland (including the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office) and Singapore. The group entered voluntary liquidation in 1999 amid debts of HK$100 million. Wu was the financial adviser to NCHK. At the same time, he was managing partner of Ernst & Young's China business in 1996, before becoming deputy chairman of the firm in 1998 and chairman in 2000. During this period, Ernst & Young was auditor to NCHK. Various lawsuits followed the company's collapse, one of which was against Ernst & Young and Wu, which was settled out of court. The HKICPA took six years to decide whether the defendants had a case to answer. The disciplinary committee was set up in December 2009 and the case was eventually heard in May this year. It has be said in Ramanathan's defence that this process exposes a flaw in the HKICPA's regulation of accountants in that it relies on lay panels and members to write these opinions. These are written in their own time and since they are not paid to write them, this work is secondary to their normal paid work. Given the length of time this case has taken: the preliminary investigation, the formal investigation, and the writing of the opinion, the HKICPA or some others might consider how the process can be improved.

 

Beckham turns out for CLSA

Security was tight at the Grand Hyatt Hotel yesterday during the CLSA Investor Forum as David Beckham showed up to add his stardust to the proceedings. He was interviewed in the Grand Ballroom by CLSA's Edmund Bradley while clients packed into three other locations to watch the show on video. Such was the demand that even CLSA staff, except for senior executives, were denied access, much to their disappointment. However one senior CLSA executive who attempted to sneak into the proceedings was stopped as he wasn't on the guest list and was only allowed in after his identity was confirmed by the event organisers. By all accounts Beckham charmed his audience as he talked about the highs and lows of his life. According to our man on the spot the highlight of the event occurred during questions when one guy asked his question and then asked for a photograph with him. Beckham readily agreed: "Let's do it now." So he jumped up on the stage, adopted the classic selfie position with Beckham, and captured the moment, much to the amusement of all. Other moments included a hug for one client and a handshake for another.

Beckham later attended a private drinks party with executives and selected clients. The wagging tongues of those that follow these matters say that Beckham attended a dinner at the China Club on Tuesday evening in the company of what was described to us as a "a mystery attractive Chinese woman".

 

Goldman's golden age

The website efinancial careers has alerted us to yet another book from an ex-Goldman banker - Steve Mandis - reflecting on how gentlemanly the firm was in the old days, when Goldman bankers eschewed the trappings of material wealth: "Partners did not wear expensive suits or drive fancy cars... (most drove Fords because it was such a good client and many partners got a special discount).

"They lived relatively modestly, considering their wealth. It was simply not in the ethos to be flashy but rather to be understated, with Midwestern restraint." How things have changed.

 

Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? E-mail them to howard.winn@scmp.com

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