A rogue banker who squandered HK$100 million of depositors' cash is now being sued by a lawyer who quit the profession after reportedly taking his trousers off in front of the media.
Former Billion International Holdings chairman Simon Chan Ying-ming was jailed for two years and five months in the late 1990s for running a bogus bank, and was described at the time by a judge as "driven by reckless greed and ambition".
Now, in a filing on New Year's Eve, former lawyer Chu Tak accuses Chan of failing to pay him HK$1.36 million as part of a complicated agreement made in July last year.
Under the deal, the filing said, Chu was to deposit money into accounts with brokerages and give the account numbers and passwords to Chan - who was to then give them to one Gordon Poon Tung-hoi. Poon would use the accounts to trade in Hang Seng Index options and futures.
Chu and Chan were to split the profits when they hit 10 per cent or higher, the filing said, and Chan would indemnify Chu against any losses.
Millions were deposited into the accounts and Poon began trading. Some HK$1.51 million was lost. Chan earlier paid off HK$150,000, leaving HK$1.36 million unpaid, the writ says.
Chu also claims Chan received "commission rebates" from the accounts in respect of trades from July to October last year without his consent. He is demanding Chan account for these payments.
The former lawyer says Chan "is and was at all material times liable to pay" the amount. Despite repeated demands, including a letter from Chu's lawyers, Chan had not done so, the filing adds.
Chu, who was called to the bar in 1983, made headlines in September 2006 when journalists reported he had taken off his trousers in front of the media. The New Year's Eve filing said he had retired from legal practice of his own volition that same month.
Billion Finance was set up as a money-lending business in 1993, but by 1995 Chan's company was taking deposits from the public. A staff of 20 sought to attract clients, including family and friends, with interest rates of up to 24 per cent a year, compared with bank rates then of about 6 per cent.
The rogue banking practices spanned 33 months, collapsing when it became known that the company was in difficulty, sparking a run on deposits.
Chan was initially imprisoned for six months in 1998 but his sentence was extended to two years and five months after an appeal by the secretary for justice in 1999.