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Bank sees cash as petty as the rules

NOW available in Hongkong: a banking service which refuses to accept even small amounts of money without a handling fee.

A Hongkong landlord asked his tenant Shaleen Vaswani to pay her $8,500 rent directly into his savings account at the Bank of China.

She turned up at the branch in the old Bank of China Building - but they did not want the cash. No money over $6,000 was acceptable from people without accounts, unless she paid $42 handling fee.

Refusing to comply with this ridiculous rule, Shaleen split the money and paid it into the account in smaller chunks.

Her landlord complained, and demanded that she pay in a single block.

We telephoned the Bank of China to see if this ludicrous situation really existed.

A rather charming public relations woman called Josephine admitted that it was true.

In fact, the rule book says that no sum over $5,000 can be accepted in cash to a savings account without a handling fee.

''We receive a lot of complaints about this, but it is a regulation sent by our regional office,'' she said.

Well, China's new bank chief Zhu Rongji could well start by getting rid of idiotic rules like this one.

What next? Will passers-by have to pay a handling fee to walk on the pavement outside the bank? Actually, we shouldn't suggest these things. You never know when they will be taken seriously.

Two Dicks WRITER Simon Winchester told us about an incident which took place in London recently.

An Englishman called Richard Stratton was visiting a Japanese advertising agency man.

The Japanese gentleman had become more English than the English.

His suit was by Huntsman. His shirt was by Harvie and Hudson. His tie was by Sulka. His shoes were by Church. And he had the most impeccable upper class English accent.

''My name's Richard Stratton,'' said Richard.

''Ew, Richard,'' said the Japanese chap. ''May I call you Bob?'' A real dog A COUPLE of our colleagues at the newspaper decided to invest in a greyhound to race in Macau, and named it ''Winning Post''.

It had its first run this week. The news was not good.

One of its owners, James O'Keefe, said: ''Unfortunately, all the other dogs took its name literally, and ran past it.'' Kai Tak runner TWO sheriffs of Central have written a book. Gerard McMahon of the Securities and Futures Commission and ex-SFC man Derek Murphy launched The Essential Guide to the Hongkong Takeovers and Share Repurchase Codes yesterday.

Advance copies of the book were released at the end of last week. But the authors were surprised to hear that they were selling best at Kai Tak airport. Who has been buying it? No doubt the yuan-laden entrepreneurs arriving daily in Hongkong from the mainland will find it highly useful.

Hongkong shares of Chinese firms seem dangerous just now, although people are clearly enraptured with Tsingtao Brewery.

We are reminded of the words of Adam Smith in The Money Game: ''Don't fall in love with your stock - the stock doesn't know you own it.'' Getting high WE were surprised by the number of our contacts who have been telling us they already have tickets for Michael Jackson's show in Hongkong - even before the American Express priority offer came out.

We now know how.

The Arena Group has been sending out letters to people on Andrew Bull's mailing lists.

They have even set up a hotline booking service which is offering seats in all price categories. The hotline accepts bookings in groups of 10 with payment by any major credit card, not just Amex.

One chap from Exchange Square telephoned the hotline staff and asked if they could tell him precisely which seats he was buying. Staff said they would take his booking, but had yet to make a seating plan.

''I was promised 'great seats' from the same organiser for the Paul Simon concert, only to end up three rows from the Coliseum roof,'' he said.

Saucy baggage FRIEND at a recent AmCham luncheon told us about an American gentleman who strolled up to an airline counter in his home country.

''I want a ticket to fly me to Hongkong, but I want one of my bags sent to Tokyo and the other to Honolulu,'' he said.

''We can't possibly do that, sir,'' said the airline official.

''Why not?'' he replied. ''You did last time.''