• Sun
  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 4:05am
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 May, 2014, 1:15am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 May, 2014, 1:15am

We are still waiting for Anthony Wu's sanctions

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 beginning to fret again about Anthony Wu Ting-yuk and the long-running saga of the disciplinary proceedings which have been brought against him by the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

It is almost five months since a disciplinary committee found Wu, a former chairman of the Hospital Authority, and two others guilty of professional misconduct. The other two 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 an investment in New China Hong Kong in 1999. Wu was the financial adviser to the company and EY was the auditor.

Normally, disciplinary findings and sanctions are announced at the same time, though on occasions if the findings are announced separately, the sanctions usually come about a month later.

But it is now five months since the disciplinary committee announced its findings, and there is still no sign of this inordinately protracted process coming to an end.

We are waiting for the chairman of the committee, Kumar Ramanathan, to complete his report, which will unveil the sanctions and the reasons for imposing them.

An HKICPA statement said Wu was found guilty of professional misconduct in failing to observe the independence requirements of the institute "in participating in the management of the company and/or otherwise having an involvement with the company and its subsidiaries whilst also a senior partner of EY [which] acted as auditors of the company".

The HKICPA's proceedings against the defendants have been protracted to say the least. It took two years for it to decide if the complaints merited investigation, and then almost 21/2 years to investigate the case before it was heard in May last year, making it far and away the institute's longest-running case. It then took almost eight months for a report on the findings to be prepared. This was announced in December.

The disciplinary process, as we have remarked before, has taken so long because of the complexity of the case, with all parties well "lawyered up", and a disciplinary committee that is working on an unpaid basis.

It is particularly onerous on the chairman, who is nearly always a barrister. Ramanathan, is a highly regarded silk, and is therefore a busy man. The HKICPA might argue that this case is a one-off, but it is clear the system is flawed and needs overhauling.

 

So farewell, Chitty

After 27 years, Cathay Pacific Airways bids farewell to Chitty Cheung, who for the past two years has been director of corporate affairs.

Cheung joined Cathay after leaving University of Hong Kong with a degree in management and economics and has worked in a number of different departments within the airline.

She is married to former journalist, radio chat show host and businessman Robert Chow Yung, who currently has his hands full opposing the Occupy Central movement.

Cheung says she is leaving while she is young enough to do something else outside the airline industry. She has been trained in general management and feels more comfortable running operational departments. "I certainly won't be looking for a job in PR or corporate communications," she told Lai See.

 

Car sale

Something for classic car fans. James Hull, dentist, entrepreneur, philanthropist and owner of Britain's largest privately owned, award-winning collection of cars, has announced that he is in search of a new home for his 457 British classics, estimated to be worth £100 million (HK$1.3 billion).

His collection of cars covers each decade from the 1930s to the present day, reflecting the history of the British automotive industry.

It includes the first 1961 Jaguar E Type roadsters, a Sir William Lyons Jaguar Mk10, two 1954 Bentley Mulliner R Type Continental fastbacks, an Alvis Super Graber convertible and an Allard "woodie" station wagon.

The collection also includes a Mini Traveller owned by the late Lord Mountbatten, and a Bentley formerly owned by Elton John. Hull is keen for the collection to remain in Britain but sadly as we know all too well, everything has its price.

 

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

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