FRANCIS Yuen Tin-fan is not having a good month. The former chief executive of the Hong Kong stock exchange and chairman of Seapower International Holdings, who counts arch-deal makers such as Li Ka-shing and Larry Yung Chi-kin as his friends, woke up on August 3 to the sound of hobnailed boots tramping up his drive. The boots belonged to officers of the Commercial Crime Bureau, who duly busied themselves around his home looking for documents related to an alleged criminal conspiracy to take over insurance company National Mutual. By the time he had got to work in Alexandra House, the CCB was waiting for him. They left clutching a handful of apparently harmless papers, while Mr Yuen was left to discuss matters with his lawyers. He put out a statement saying he had no knowledge of any criminal conspiracy, and no doubt hoped that was the end of that. If only. Barely a week later, the eyes of the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) swivelled in Mr Yuen's direction after an anonymous but obviously aggrieved person posted documents to the Hong Kong press, the SFC and the stock exchange, accusing Mr Yuen of insider dealing and failure to disclose share transactions. The SFC was sufficiently impressed with the allegations to look into the matter further, catapulting Mr Yuen on to the front pages and topping off 14 summer days that he would prefer to forget. Mr Yuen was expecting more from the month of August than the current spate of allegations. It was supposed to be the month when the bridge-playing Hong Kong comprador would pull off a classy finesse by forcing Seapower honorary chairman Choi Sai-leung to purchase shares and warrants in the company for an estimated $550 million. Mr Yuen and a group of his string-pulling friends including Li Ka-shing, chairman of CITIC Pacific Larry Yung and the Leung family, which controls Kee Shing Holdings, hold a put option which requires Mr Choi to purchase all their shares for $3.30 and their warrants for $2.08, and would force Mr Choi into making a general offer for Seapower. This deal, which started out in a civilised fashion, degenerated into a chimpanzees' tea party with writs filed from both sides as Mr Choi attempted to wangle his way out of the deal and Mr Yuen insisted it went ahead. The SFC is also investigating allegations surrounding the fiasco and is expected to announce its findings soon. This came on top of earlier boardroom tussles and bitter legal proceedings in February this year over the appointment of Leung Shu-wing and Owen Leung Chung-ping as directors of the company, during which Mr Yuen's fitness to continue as chairman was called into question. With writs flying left, right and centre, the police on his doorstep and regulators breathing down his neck, Mr Yuen points out that nothing has gone beyond the allegation stage. But while his current predicament is not exactly a fall from grace, it is a far cry from his days as chief executive of the Hong Kong stock exchange, during which he was widely admired for his leadership after the 1987 crash. Old-timers regard Mr Yuen as the man who put the exchange back on the international map as a viable and credible market. HE JOINED when it was in disarray. The 1987 crash resulted in the controversial closure of the shares and futures market and led to devastating losses on the Hang Seng Index, which shed 88.5 per cent of its value between 26 October, when it closed at 4,472 points, and 14 December, when it touched a low of just 517. On top of this, former exchange chief executive Ronald Li was expelled and arrested and the bourse was exposed as having been operating as a private club for Li and his cronies. Having worked for Wardley and Citibank, and also having lectured in economics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Mr Yuen's appointment stripped off the crusty exterior of the exchange. He was regarded as a young, trouble-shooting high-flyer, brought in to restore the market's seriously damaged reputation by tackling issues head on. His reputation was only enhanced after he referred to smaller Chinese stockbrokers in an article in the Financial Times as ''illiterate''. He later apologised and said they weren't illiterate, they were just ''ignorant''. The Hay-Davidson report, which was commissioned to put the stock exchange back on track, suggested radical reforms in securities legislation and market regulation that went to the core of the clubby and anachronistic bourse. Mr Yuen was primarily responsible for implementing these reforms and much of the systems and regulations that govern today's bourse are down to his hard work.