'I PRINCE Ugoh, chemist and bona fide staff of the Nigeria National Security printing and minting company which is under the Ministry of Finance and Planning, in collaboration with three other officials are now in possession of a total sum of US$46 million in cash awaiting shipment abroad.' Old variants of the Nigerian scam letter, in the guise of collecting on over-invoiced contracts, sought to lure people into faxing bank details to Nigeria. This time the senders claim to have $46 million in cash, sent to them from Colombia and originally intended for buying shares in the now bust Bank of Credit and Commerce International. Actually, BCCI was a private bank so shares couldn't be bought. Never mind. Because BCCI went bust the deal went through. Suddenly, the 'Prince' and his friends want to use it for something else. 'Presently, this money is in the form of bonded retractable negative 267.03 mint stage and is almost ready for other use as a legal tender, but your assistance will enable us to reconvert them to a Grade A 135 NCO-proof mint stage,' says the Prince. In other words, the notes have been chemically blackened and need some special cleaner. You, dear recipient of the letter, should go forthwith to Lagos and help them clean the money up and they will give you 35 per cent, or $16.1 million. This sounds like the scam in which characters bring some blacked cash to your hotel room, peel a note off the top, wash it with nail varnish remover and show it to be a genuine $100 bill. 'Give us $10,000 so we can get thousands of bottles of nail varnish remover from Watsons,' they say. Needless to say, the rest of the notes are blank sheets of paper, and your new friends are never seen again. Free ride FANCY having Deng Xiaoping's son-in-law on your board, but worried about the cost? Over at Oriental Metals, Wu Jianchang is being chairman for free, with no basic salary. All he gets is 0.5 per cent of the profit above HK$103 million. Mr Wu is chairman of Oriental Metals' holding company, and of the holding company's holding company, and he gets paid for both of these jobs, too, so it is not entirely charity work. Even if the company repeats last year's profits bonanza, a rise of 157 per cent, Mr Wu will only get $600,000. For someone with his connections - he's married to Number One daughter Deng Lin - it's a bargain, for the moment. Pricey PR IT'S not just shareholders who will be wanting MKI Corp to survive. Public relations firm Hill and Knowlton is also hoping it will survive, particularly if survival means Hill and Knowlton will be paid HK$181,309. Oh, and 60 cents. When MKI exploded on the world in a blaze of publicity about a year ago, led by the enigmatic His Excellency Khundkar Khalid Ahmed Hossain, it was Hill and Knowlton who did the spadework of raising the company's profile - publicity so unrealistic that the stock exchange suspended the shares, pushing the firm into an orgy of recriminations. Last week, H & K filed a writ trying to get the cash from the near-bust group, for crafting brochures, handouts and other stuff referring to His Excellency as 'bringing a new level of energy and experience to the company', which in a strange sort of way was true. Antonia Leung and Denise Maguire, the two executives who handled the firm, no longer work there, but H & K's Shirley Dirkin says this is just coincidence. Prz wnr A CHALLENGE by Paul Brown of property agents Sallmanns to find the meaning of a string of baffling estate agent abbreviations brought forth a strong response from Ian Hart, of Bagio Villas. 'Agentspeak is a living, evolving language resplendent with wit and colour, touched with whimsey and peppered with historic, genographic and even scientific allusions,' he says. 'The first thorough study of this language was carried out by the Australian philologist Professor Affabeck Lauder (1966) in his famous paper Gloria Soame! 3br, 2cp, views' Of those who hunted for the 'real' answers, Dr Eileen Lye and Dorothy Ryan probably got closest. Of those looking with more cynical eyes, Paul and Lai See agree the best was Neil McLaughlin, of Lantau, whose talented entry is printed in the cut-out-and-keep form above.