Crowds of small investors with personal losses of up to $1 million converged on a stockbroking firm yesterday after learning its owner was suspected to have run away with their savings. Clients of the Ying Kit Stock Company included many elderly investors, some of whom had put their life savings in the brokerage only to see it disappear. The amount of money suspected to have been stolen from the firm by its runaway boss rose to $110 million last night after complaints had been lodged by 152 clients. A woman identified only as Ms Ng was among the clients queueing at the Sheung Wan brokerage yesterday to lodge their details with police and Securities and Futures Commission representatives. Ms Ng's father jointly established the firm with missing owner Lam Kwan-kit in early 1970s, but withdrew from the partnership shortly after. Ms Ng said Mr Lam was in the watch business before forming the securities house. Apart from stockbroking, Ms Ng said Mr Lam had also been involved in property development. She said she had no confidence she would get back her shares, worth $300,000, being held by the firm. 'I have called the Securities and Futures Commission. They told me because my shares were not held in my own name I may not be able to get them back even if the shares are still there.' Another client, who gave her name as Mrs Chan, invested about $500,000 in shares through the stockbroking firm. She said she had got back 10,000 MTRC shares from the firm when she asked Mr Lam to return all her stocks last Friday. 'I don't know whether I will get the rest of my money back. But I don't think I can get them all back,' Mrs Chan said. Other clients said they would no longer trust stockbroking firms when buying shares. An elderly client said: 'It's hard to believe the firm operating for more than 20 years closed suddenly. I am worried that I cannot get my money back. I may buy shares through banks in future.' Another man who had an account with the firm for more than 20 years and held shares with a market value of more than $1.1 million said he was a friend of Mr Lam's, 'I think his wife knew nothing about her husband's business. She probably wouldn't know that her husband would run away like this,' he said. A Securities and Futures Commission spokesman said the regulator was still counting the total value of the firm's shares defaulted to its clients. The firm, which has about 260 customers, was yesterday prohibited by the commission from carrying on securities trading. Under existing law, clients of defaulting brokers can claim compensation from Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing up to a maximum of only $8 million per firm. But clients may get more if the regulators apply a proposed new scheme, which would see the maximum payout raised to $150,000 each.