LAI SEE
Lai See
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The SFC finally gets its man - third time lucky

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 June, 2014, 12:39am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 June, 2014, 12:39am

We see that the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has finally nailed Andrew Mantel, chief executive of Pacific Sun Advisors, on its third attempt. Pacific Sun and Mantel were convicted on Tuesday at the Tsuen Wan Court on four charges of issuing advertisements to promote a collective investment scheme without the authorisation of the SFC.

Pacific Sun was fined HK$20,000 and Mantel was sentenced to four weeks' imprisonment, suspended for 12 months. They were also charged with advertising the fund via unauthorised e-mails.

Pacific Sun and Mantel were initially acquitted in March 2013 after arguing that the advertisements fell within an exemption that applied to sales limited to professional investors.

The SFC appealed to the High Court, which ruled that the advertisements did not fall within the exemption and ordered the case to be returned to Tsuen Wan Court.

The SFC argued the exemption did not permit advertisements that had not been authorised by the SFC to be issued to the public and that in this case there was no evidence the fund was only intended for or had only been sold to professional investors. Some years ago Mantel wrote to Lai See to say the SFC had tried to deprive him of his licence twice before, only to have it reinstated on both occasions on appeal.

Another HK start-up

Necessity, we are told, is the mother of invention. Software engineer Ashok Jaiswal has come to appreciate this truth after being badgered by his wife and his mother-in-law to fix a nagging problem which was driving him crazy.

For the past year and half his wife and mother-in-law have been doting over the couple's young daughter and in the process taking thousands of photographs with their mobile phones. Every two months or so the memory on their phones filled up as a result of the numerous photographs and they asked Jaiswal to deal with the problem.

So Jaiswal then spent a weekend downloading them on to a computer, sorting them, deleting duplicates or similar photographs and putting them into albums. It was a tedious and time consuming business. One day his wife said to him: "You're a multimedia expert, why can't you build something to do all this?" So a year ago he gave up his job with Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong, where he'd been streamlining its video conferencing facilities, and came up with a solution to his wife's problem and founded a start-up company along the way. It is called EzeeCube.

Jaiswal describes it as a stackable media-hub. It is an open system which can be extended and is based on open source XBMC which supports all manner of file types. It connects to a television and will automatically sync and sort photos, videos, music and contacts from iOS and Android phones or tablets. EzeeCube's base unit can store up to 500,000 photos and will automatically store them by location, dates, albums and so on. It will also find duplicates and similar photos with the option of deleting them. "Basically it enables you to store all your digital media without having to think too hard about it," says Jaiswal. It is modular so if you run out of storage space all you have to do is buy more storage which comes in 2TB sizes and sits on top of the base and connects without the need for wiring or setting up.

Other modules such as a Blu-ray player can be added similarly and future add-ons will be connected in the same, simple way. You can use the television to browse the contents using the television remote control or the phone app. EzeeCube can also be connected to the internet and used to stream web content such as YouTube. It can also be accessed by phone or tablet.

Jaiswal is conscious that a lot of multimedia equipment for use in the home can be ferociously complex, so one of his overriding aims has been to make it user-friendly. He says that while there are devices that will perform some of the functions, "There is no device which has brought all these functions together."

Jaiswal found seed funding through Hong Kong-based angel investors BigColors and Big Bloom. It currently has a campaign on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo to raise US$75,000 to build 500 units. The cube is expected to retail for US$299, but you can get it cheaper by taking part in the funding.

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