Chow Sang Sang

Demand still huge says man sued over Harvard offer failure

Education consultant at centre of US$2.2m legal row says he has more HK clients on his books

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 November, 2012, 3:41am

A "pretty well-known family" in Hong Kong is still on the books of American consultant Mark Zimny, who is being sued by a disgruntled client whose sons failed to get into Harvard university.

Zimny said the family was among six from Hong Kong, including tycoons, affluent professionals and expatriates, who had engaged his company, IvyAdmit, to help with their children's education in the United States.

He refused to name the client except to say the family was "pretty well known".

Jewellery tycoon Gerald Chow King-sing and his wife are suing Zimny for a refund of US$2.2 million they paid in an education services agreement after the consultant failed to get their sons into Harvard as he had allegedly promised.

"Gerald is the only one who has ever sued," said Zimny, who started his business in 1999. "Every other client is happy with the result."

He said the remaining Hong Kong client was "not concerned" about the lawsuit filed by Chow, who is the executive director of listed conglomerate Chow Sang Sang Holdings.

While the Chow sons received services including assistance with living arrangements and tutoring, Zimny said not all families had the same needs. Some only wanted their children to get into good schools, while others might also want the consultant to keep an eye on the children when they were in the United States, he said.

According to court documents, the Chows required the consultancy staff to be available to the children round the clock.

"In nine out of 10 cases, the wealthier the parents, the less attention is paid to the children," Zimny said. Most agreements with the families were oral as they did not want any details to be leaked, he said.

Describing himself as a middle-man who introduced parents to schools and "facilitated donations", Zimny said he focused his business on Hong Kong, South Korea and, increasingly, the mainland. He had six to seven tutors at a time. "The demand [in Asia] is huge, but what we do is far more specialised," he said. "We've lost a lot of business [after the lawsuit came to light], but we think the business is still intact."