MR DEACON Chiu Te-ken had just one piece of advice for his son, David, as he walked away from the High Court last Monday a free man: ''This is over now. Put it all behind you and make up for lost time.'' And that is exactly what Mr David Chiu Tat-cheong intends to do, now that he has been cleared of fraud charges hanging over his head for the last five years. ''My dream,'' he said in an exclusive interview with Sunday Money, ''is to restore Far East Consortium Ltd to where it once was . . . one of Hongkong's top 30 capitalised companies. Today, FEC languishes in the bottom 200 companies according to market capitalisation though it still controls assets of around $2 billion. ''It won't happen overnight but it will happen in time. I am young and our management team is young. But above all we have the same goal.'' Although one of the territory's biggest property players in the 1970s and early '80s, Mr Chiu does not see Hongkong holding the key to FEC's future. When the phones stopped ringing, soon after his arrest by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the managing director of FEC quickly found himself standing alone in Hongkong's business community. Although he never doubted his own innocence, others did. ''People in Hongkong think that when you are charged you are bad,'' he said. ''The Chinese don't look at such things in an English perspective . . . that is you are innocent until proven guilty.'' He personally shouldered much of the burden of the last five years but could not entirely shield his family, especially his children from the public spotlight. ''I think that hurt the most,'' he said. ''My children didn't really know what was happening but their school friends told them, 'Your daddy is bad'. That hurt . . . it hurt more than anything else.'' Business ticked over, he said, but FEC saw its position and influence in Hongkong greatly diminished. Mr Chiu said he missed the Hongkong property boom of the last five years, which ''would have made us a lot of money''. The reason was not because the banks wouldn't lend him money, he said, adding: ''Frankly, I didn't ask because at the back of my mind I was always worried about being refused.'' He did, however, have some lines open to certain Japanese banks ''which were extremely kind to us''. ''It takes a long time to build a relationship with a Japanese bank but once that relationship has been established they trust you all the way. ''We knew we were not in play in Hongkong so we went down to Malaysia and Singapore,'' he said. And the move has paid handsome dividends. Today FEC is one of the biggest private property developers in Malaysia and is expanding into property development in China. Towards the end of the year, the company will begin one of the biggest private residential developments in Malaysia, just five minutes from Kuala Lumpur. The project will involve the construction of 4,300 units with a gross development area of six to seven million square feet. ''We have built up quite a sizeable land bank in Malaysia,'' Mr Chiu said. ''And we are sitting there with the potential of quite a lot of profit. ''What I would like to say to my shareholders is this: 'I'm sorry we couldn't performed the way we should have in the Hongkong property market, but the management made it up for you in Malaysia'.'' Mr Chiu said he was philosophical about the events of the last five years. With the fraud charges hanging over his head, he found it difficult to find finance, and people were reluctant to do business with him. All of which was perfectly understandable, he said. But no sooner had the charges been dropped than the phones began ringing again in Mr David Chiu's office. Last Monday, Mr Justice Leonard said he had no alternative but to formally discharge Mr Chiu, and the six counts of fraud and false accounting involving a total of $179 million were dropped. For the Chiu family, once one of Hongkong's most prominent and powerful business entities, it brought to an end a multi-million-dollar legal battle that went as far as the Privy Council in London to clear the family name and restore its honour. A month earlier, Mr Justice Leonard had ruled that Mr Deacon Chiu would not have a fair trial because he suffered from a serious deterioration in his intellectual and memory functions. He said he was satisfied this was a rare and exceptional case and accepted that Mr Chiu's medical condition was progressive and had a gravely adverse effect on his ability to conduct his defence. The trial of Mr David Chiu was to have begun last Monday but a packed courtroom listened in stunned silence as the Crown prosecutor, Mr Joe Pethes, said that after careful reading of Mr Justice Leonard's 114-page judgement outlining his reasons for awarding 68-year-old Deacon Chiu a permanent stay of proceedings, the Attorney-General had decided not to proceed with the prosecution's case against Mr David Chiu. Mr Chiu senior was indicted on a total of 14 conspiracy charges in 1988, which had allegedly occurred between 1982 and 1985 and involved loans amounting to $352.5 million. Mr David Chiu was arrested in February, 1989. For the Chius it was the second tragedy to hit the family. In July 1983, Dennis Chiu, then 24 and managing director of Asia Television, hit and killed a young policeman. He was sentenced to four years' imprisonment for manslaughter but won remission of one-third of the term for good behaviour. Mr Chiu said he had been finalising a deal to buy the Kuala Lumpur Plaza when charged. ''It was a superb deal,'' he recalled. ''We had signed a deal subject to finance. When I was charged, the Singaporean bank we had arranged finance with withdrew. If we had brought that property we would have been sitting on at least $300 million profit today. ''Obviously, it wasn't meant to be,'' he said. ''In life there are moments that are to your advantage and those that are not. And this was one of them.'' Of his father, now honorary chairman of the FEC group, Mr Chiu said: ''At his age he obviously can't pick the pieces up and rebuild his life . . . not at 70. That is the age you start planning your retirement. ''A lot of people say he was tight with his money but they forget the money he has poured back into the community by building hospitals and such. He may be tight with his money but he has been generous in his heart to others. My father was not a man who liked to eat in expensive restaurants or buy fleets of Rolls-Royces. But to others he was very generous.'' Deacon Chiu is like a lot of his generation of self-made millionaires. He came to Hongkong from Shanghai in 1950 and a year later set up his own business. By 1958 he had established the Far East Bank. ''I remember when my father was at the peak of his career in the 1970s and early '80s,'' Mr Chiu said. ''He would walk into a cocktail party and the cameras would start flashing all over the place. After the ICAC case, people stopped taking notice. I don't have to spell out what impact that had on him. ''All this has changed him. He used to be a very trusting man. He trusted everyone. Not any more. Any documents he receives he insists on Chinese translations and wants things explained. Often he just pushes them aside and doesn't sign anything.'' Mr Chiu is determined to make up for lost time but he is not going to overreact either ''just because the banks want to lend us money again''. ''For me I am 38 and I can rebuild my confidence.'' ''I will take my time and we will examine each deal very closely.'' One thing the last five years has done is force my family to delegate more. There was a time when I would go overseas and be called all the time by people wanting to know if they can do this or that. Now they don't call. People get on with the job. ''I guess it's also a sign of the company's maturity.''