THE knitting and garment manufacturing industry once again topped the Hong Kong bankruptcies list last year. Year-end statistics released by the Official Receiver's Department showed an 8.9 per cent rise in insolvencies in the knitting and garment sector over 1992. Robin Hearder, Hong Kong's Official Receiver, said increased competition from manufacturers in other cheaper Asian countries could be to blame partly. The department reported a total 408 new compulsory company liquidations in industry as a whole last year, a 20 per cent rise over 1992. In addition, there were a further 329 new personal bankruptcies recorded, an 11 per cent increase on 1992. Mr Hearder said he was satisfied with the level of these rises, saying they were roughly in line with the increase in the number of new companies registered in Hong Kong last year. Apart from knitting and garment manufacturing, other sectors badly hit included restaurants and canteens, construction and engineering, electrical and electronic manufacturing, importers and exporters, and company directors giving personal guarantees. The number of construction and engineering industry bankruptcies actually fell last year, despite a depressing slump in new business. Of all the petitions filed, around 40 per cent came from the Director of Legal Aid, 37 per cent from trade creditors, 16 per cent from banks and financial institutions and seven per cent from other sources. Some 66 bankrupts (directors) were convicted last year compared with 45 in 1992. The total amount of fines imposed was $326,458 as against $298,390 in 1992. One bankrupt, Hang Hanson, who was convicted of obtaining credit without disclosing his bankruptcy status, was sentenced to two months imprisonment suspended for 18 months. The total sum recovered and returned to creditors by the Official Receiver last year amounted to $179.3 million from 251 insolvency cases. One hundred per cent preferential or ordinary dividend was declared on some 89 bankrupt companies, including First Bangkok City Finance ($21.8 million) and Thai Mercantile Development Finance ($10.8 million). Substantial dividends were also declared to the creditors of China Underwriters Life and General Insurance Co ($67.6 million) and Mosbert Acceptance (12.5 million).