Tuesday, August 21, 2007
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The news that 95 per cent of letters delivered to Hong Kong from Nigeria are fraudulent may not come as a surprise to readers of this column.

Over the years Lai See has taken great pride in bringing the very best in scammery from Nigerians purporting to be senior government officials with an urgent need for their pile of hot money to cool its heels in the bank account of an unsuspecting dupe.

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However, the Nigerians' supremacy in the international scamming league is facing a strong challenge from Mexico.

Nick Foxall e-mailed us the delightful news that his company, Design Stream, has taken the 'International Main Prize of Quality and Service' awarded by the 'Directive Council of International Total Quality' based in Los Cabos, Baja California, in Mexico.

The glad tidings were conveyed by the president himself, a Dr Miguel Bracamontes Lamarque, who outlined the schedule for a glittering awards ceremony to be held on March 21 attended by 'prominent people in the economy, advertising, art and cultural areas', from around the world.

There's just one catch - a pre-registration fee of US$1,900 'for participation expenses', the good doctor said. 'They even have a convincing web site [http://www.orbinet.commx/cati] but it all smells a bit guacamole to me,' said Nick.

When you are down there is always someone lining up to take another kick at you. This seems to be the lot of China Entertainment TV chairman and founder Robert Chua Wah Peng who has absorbed some serious punishment since five mainland companies reneged on promises to buy into his satellite TV channel last year.

The channel has been kept afloat over the past few months by donations from viewers, and last week Mr Chua received a $6 million sum from a Chinese Indonesian businessman to safeguard its future for the next few weeks.

What he didn't need to be told was his attempt to claim for the loss of production equipment worth $250,000 stolen from the inappropriately named Veristrong Industrial Centre Studio had been turned down by CAF International Insurance.

Acting for CAF, Roger Houghton Loss Adjusters told a disgusted Mr Chua that because the theft was 'not accompanied by forcible and violent entry upon the premises' he had no claim.

Director Newman Li told Lai See: 'The police confirmed it. If Mr Chua wanted to cover this sort of theft he should have made a special arrangement with his insurers.' The lesson is clear - if you are going to have your premises ransacked, pray it is by violent maniacs and not softly treading cat burglars with a diffident manner.

Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's widely reported remarks about the Titanic at a joint chambers of commerce lunch this week have completely overshadowed his literary allusions.

It seems that Mr Tsang bought a dictionary of quotations with the savings he would have made from the tax breaks in his own budget last month.

In the space of a few lines, the devout Catholic quoted the Book of Proverbs; 'where there is no vision, the people perish', the English poet Shenstone; 'when the banquet ceases, the vision flies'.

Shakespeare was next; 'We must be wary of visions that are made of baseless fabric', or to quote Byron, Mr Tsang said, 'of visions that are the products of raw pork'.

Still not finished with his vision thing, Mr Tsang ended grandly with a helping of Yeats; 'art is not the only medium that gives us such visions of reality'.

Ever wondered what happened to those masters of ethical investment, HT Capital Management's Ophelia Tong Tze-ming and her husband Karl Hurst? Readers will recall how last month the pair invited investors in the fund management company to take back their cash - all US$23.5 million of it - because the markets were too difficult to generate decent returns.

Yesterday a stout, buff-coloured postcard arrived on our desk announcing the couple is to relocate to a London address with effect from March 27.

Ms Tong said that she and Mr Hurst planned to tour Europe until possibly the end of the year to work out how they might adjust their working practices to cope with the regional meltdown, as well as seeking new equity investors.

'If we don't adapt then we are like a dinosaur,' Ms Tong said as she suspended operations until conditions improved - a sentiment guaranteed to bring an attack of the vapours to her more rapacious industry colleagues.

Full marks to the Judiciary for keeping abreast of current affairs. Stephen Yung discovered that in the lobby of San Po Kong Magistrates Court visitors can pick up a fascinating information brochure about applying for hearings in different courts.

Printed in 1996, its contents still refers to the Privy Council in London as the court of last appeal.