Lai See

Deborah Annells remanded in custody after fresh charges

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2014, 12:32am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2014, 12:32am

Fresh charges were brought against tax consultant Deborah Annells at Eastern Court yesterday and she was remanded in custody until her next court hearing on June 6.

Annells, 55, who is well-known in Hong Kong expatriate circles, appeared before Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai on a charge of doing an act, tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice. This related to using a false document to obtain a variation of bail at a court hearing last Friday. She also faced one count of fraud, where she attempted to use the same false document to rent premises in Sea Bird House. Annells is the founder and CEO of AzureTax, which specialises in arranging the tax affairs of expatriates in Hong Kong. This sometimes involves setting up trust funds.

She appeared in Eastern Court in November last year in connection with 29 counts of theft and fraud amounting to HK$25.4 million. She was remanded on HK$250,000 bail, her travel documents were surrendered and she was told to report weekly to Wan Chai police station.

She appeared in the same court in February to face a further 26 charges of theft and fraud. The sum involved for the total of 55 charges exceeded HK$36 million. Last Friday her recently appointed counsel Kevin Egan applied for an adjustment in her bail terms so that she could temporarily retrieve her passport and fly to Britain over Easter. This was granted by Chainrai, but the magistrate revoked that decision yesterday.

Her solicitor Christopher Morley of Haldanes and Egan have withdrawn from the case.


Citi leads deal-makers

There is no little jubilation within Citi at the state of the M&A Advisory rankings for Asia Pacific ex-Japan. Deals for the region are at a record high for the year to date at US$212.8 million, against US$126 million for the same period last year.

The sector is normally dominated by the likes of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. But this year, as you may have guessed, the leader of the pack is Citi at US$29.3 million, followed by Goldman with US$28 million, Bank of America Merrill Lynch US$25 million, and Morgan Stanley US$22.5 million. Last year their positions were, respectively, eighth, seventh, 10th and first.

Citi has advised on deals which include Sun Pharma/Ranbaxy, Anhuesuer Busch buying Oriental Brewery and it also advised MMG on behalf of the consortium that paid US$5.85 billion to buy the Las Bambas copper project in Peru. But with eight months of the year to go, the fat lady hasn't sung yet.

The surge in M&A deals is perhaps a little surprising. It was only a few days ago that Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in its 2014 CFO Outlook Asia report that firms in the region were looking to grow organically rather than via M&A. "Organic growth is the No1 way CFOs intend to use surplus cash, while just 24 per cent will spend it on M&A. Some 62 per cent of CFOs say that they do not have M&A plans in 2014, around the same proportion as in 2013," the report said.


What is art?

There will be some disappointment at the Asia Society and possibly others at the number of people who turned up to the painting Supper at Emmaus by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.

The painting has been on display at the Asia Society for the four weeks to Sunday. It normally resides in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan and came to Hong Kong as a result of the efforts of the Italian consulate, and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, which donated HK$4.2 million to ensure it got here and back to Italy safely.

When the Asia Society approached the Jockey Club, it was asked how many people it thought would view the painting. The society said 40,000, even though the most it had done in previous exhibitions was 16,000. The society surpassed its previous best but fell some way short of its hoped for target. We are told that 26,522 visitors came to see the painting.

In the early 1960s some two million Americans in Boston and New York went to view the Mona Lisa. The Mona Lisa is a more famous painting. But the numbers make you wonder about the West Kowloon Cultural District. It would be a shame if it were to be added to the growing list of white elephants in Hong Kong.


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