PUBLIC International Investments Ltd (PIIL) should have learnt five days before the ongoing negotiations were made public that buyers of its controlling stake in the firm had major Chinese interests, a witness said yesterday. David Wong Tze-kin, the former associate director of corporate finance at CEF Capital, which negotiated the sale, said PIIL representatives should have been aware of the information on December 2, 1992, although he could not recall details of the takeover bid in which he was involved about two years ago. 'Without this basic information, it would have been difficult to proceed with further discussion of the transaction,' he said in a statement presented to the Insider Dealing Tribunal yesterday. He was testifying at a hearing into the alleged insider dealing in shares of PIIL almost two years ago. Mr Wong and his former CEF bosses had met PIIL's representative, Lai Kim Leong, and Mr Lai's close associate, Leong Kwok Nyem, at the JCG Finance headquarters on December 2, 1992. Mr Wong said Mr Lai should have been aware of Chinese interests or he would not have arranged a meeting with Teh Hong Piow, PIIL's former chairman, for CEF in Kuala Lumpur on December 3. 'I try to put myself into the position: if I were the vendor or a PIIL representative [Mr Lai], I would want to know whom we were dealing with,' he said. 'Because I had to tell my boss [Mr Teh], especially when CEF [employees] came to visit him [Mr Teh].' On December 8, PIIL informed the public for the first time that 'a serious proposal' for a takeover was under way. It was not until a week later, on December 16, when the finalised deal was made public, that two mainland-backed companies - Gower Investment and Artrel, which CEF had been representing - would buy a controlling 51 per cent stake in PIIL. Yesterday's hearing examined whether Mr Lai and other persons involved in the negotiations had learnt about the buyers' identities before the takeover attempt was first made public.. The concern arose because on December 7 that year, the price of PIIL shares jumped by 33 per cent to 77 cents, before suspension of trading and the public announcement made the next day. Mr Wong said he could not recall precisely when CEF had first revealed the identities of buyers to Mr Lai. He was also not sure whether the information was leaked to irrelevant persons before PIIL published it on December 16. Mr Wong stressed he could not recall many other details of the takeover negotiations. 'I cannot recollect the details of such transactions without referring to the relevant files, which are kept by CEF,' said Mr Wong, who was the deputy managing director of corporate finance before leaving CEF in April this year.