The raid on Apple Daily is the latest in a series of blows that maverick tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying says are costing him tens of millions a month. The up-and-down fortunes of his empire have been pushed to the extreme since the debacle that followed the launch nearly six months ago of shop-from-home service AdMart. Recent thorns in Mr Lai's resilient side include the crashing of AdMart's Web site when demand for its delivery service exceeded expectations. That was followed by embarrassing revelations that AdMart was selling fake cognac and counterfeit wine. All this amid a fierce price war with Li Ka-shing's ParknShop and Jardine Matheson-owned Wellcome. Mr Lai says the retail giants are fighting dirty by ordering associated companies to pull advertising from Apple Daily. 'Maybe it's a conspiracy, but not in the sense that it's secret. It's not, they're out to crush me,' he told Asiaweek magazine last week. Mr Lai estimates he is losing US$10 million (HK$77 million) a month and he does not expect to be back in the black for two years. But he is confident that his risk with AdMart will eventually pay off, and as a veteran of many a gamble he is in a good position to judge. He made US$280 million when he sold the Giordano clothing chain after Beijing took offence at insults levelled at former premier Li Peng and some of its stores were closed on the mainland. Mr Lai claims Beijing-backed rivals for years stymied his attempt to list on the stock exchange, a fight which ended with a backdoor listing on October 21. He did not return calls yesterday.