Billion Finance chairman Simon Chan Ying-ming was jailed for six months yesterday for running a bogus bank which squandered $100 million of depositors' cash. Judge Wayne Wilson slated the rogue businessman for taking an 'unacceptable risk' with clients' money by flouting the law. The sentence came after the District Court had been told that the whereabouts of $100 million owed to clients was unknown. Flanked by guards in the dock, Chan, 43, bowed his head and closed his eyes as the judge gave reasons for his sentence. He described the businessman as 'famous, perhaps even notorious' for offering high interest rates of up to 24 per cent to depositors, but he did so without a shred of authority, only holding a money-lender's licence. He was well known among leading lights in Hong Kong society and was regularly seen at charity functions and gala dinners before falling foul of the law. The court heard during the trial that Chan used elaborate certificates of deposit and actively touted for clients, who in turn banked on his standing in society as a surety on the money. 'It appears many depositors will have lost most of their money,' the judge continued. 'There is little prospect of their recovering a fraction of what they invested.' A criminal bankruptcy order was sanctioned by the judge who said Chan's assets 'should be crystallised' in light of Billion Finance's collapse. Billion Finance was set up in February 1993 and operated until February this year when it became known the company was in difficulty, sparking a run on deposits. Complaints were lodged with Commercial Crime Bureau officers when clients failed to recoup their deposits. The judge conceded, however: 'The defendant has not stolen or misappropriated any money. But it is obvious the situation that has arisen is the very situation the [banking] legislation was designed to prevent.' Chan's defence counsel, Wong Ching SC, had stressed his client had a clear record, was a devoted husband and father, and had an active role in the charity scene. Letters testifying to his worthy character were read out to the judge, including one from legislator Dr Leong Che-hung and another from a 'humble janitor' who had invested with the bogus banker. Correspondence from a Hongkong Bank manager further described Chan as 'visionary' in his business attitude. Chan was also the victim of the present economic climate, Mr Wong contended, and had tried to repay his depositors. 'The defendant feels extremely bad about this,' Mr Wong added.