Wednesday 10th January 2018

Dear Reader,

Happy New Year! It seems like an endless stream of illegal basements comes out of Government officials. First we had ex-Chief Secretary Henry Tang's palace-cum-basement which derailed his "home run" for Chief Executive, then his victorious opponent C Y Leung with his pair of Peak houses (why do they always come in pairs?), and now the new Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk Wah and her husband and adjoining neighbour Otto Poon Lok To. The truth is that in the luxury market, there are probably more houses with "Unauthorised Building Works" than without, and the real crimes are accepting (or running for) public office without cleaning them up first and assuming that the media won't find out. With so many past officials having been caught with UBW's, it has become morally difficult for the present officials to enforce the law anyway unless they can show a threat to public safety. People with glass extensions on their houses can't throw stones.

Still, it is somewhat choking to the average private flat-owner living in less than 540 sq ft who will spend 25 years paying off the mortgage to discover that the person in charge of Justice and upholding the rule of law in HK has been enjoying an illegal basement of the same size. She should know an illegal basement when she sees one, having been Chairperson of the Buildings Appeal Tribunal Panel for 6 years until 2006.

Perhaps the greatest sense of basement humour has been shown by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who put Henry Tang back in charge of the West Kowloon Cultural Desert, with yes, a humungous integrated basement.

Belts and Burqas
Shortly before Christmas, the HK Financial Secretary announced the birth of the first Belt and Road bond in HK, the latest in a line of financial gimmicks designed to avoid meaningful regulatory reforms. (10-Jan-2018)

Webb-site upgrades CCASS Analysis, spotlights share pledges
New features in the Webb-site CCASS Analysis System (WCAS) allow investors and regulators to see the largest daily CCASS movements across the market and the history of large moves in each stock and by each broker. Movements of large blocks into CCASS or between brokers without a corresponding transaction often indicate a pledging of shares for loans, which are not disclosed due to inadequate law and Listing Rules. (19-Dec-2017)

Ex-head of private banking at Standard Chartered China charged with accepting HK$150k bribe from insurance headAppointment
ICAC, 9-Jan-2018
According to his LinkedIn profile, Ryan Gwee Yuan Kerr left Standard Chartered in Nov-2011. A Standard Chartered press release from 17-Jan-2011 announcing his appointment as Head of Private Banking, China, stated that he had then been with the bank for over 10 years. The ICAC does not name the "chairman cum major shareholder of an insurance company" who allegedly bribed Mr Gwee.

Vast illegal basement found in Teresa Cheng's home
RTHK, 9-Jan-2018
We are sure they will get to the bottom of it.

CSPT (0139) swaps 1 Lincoln Road for shares in FWF (0572)Future World announcement
Company announcement, 29-Dec-2017
FWF owns 9.21% of CSPT, just below the 10% threshold at which this would be a connected transaction. CSPT owns 8.48% of FWF which will increase to 21.46% on completion. Both are in what we call the "Chung Nam Network". The deal involves the transfer of the BVI company that owns the house, thereby avoiding a prohibitive 30% stamp duty on the $400m property.

PECS Register monthly update
HK Government, 29-Dec-2017

Webb on the Government's under-priced metered parking
South China Morning Post, 28-Dec-2017
HK's Government competes unfairly with commercial parking by charging $8/hr for on-street parking when the private sector nearby charges $30. Proposals to increase that to $4 or $5 per 15 minutes won't make much difference, even if they overcome vested interests in LegCo. Meanwhile criminal gangs corner the meters and rake off the difference as "valet parking".

HK authorities seize 8500 mobile phones worth HK$8m after high-speed boat chase
South China Morning Post, 20-Dec-2017
Go figure: HK doesn't charge VAT or import/export duties, so HK public money is spent protecting mainland government revenues and suppressing demand for the goods in HK, hence reducing HK taxable profits. HK is a freeport under Basic Law Article 114 and should start behaving like one.

And much more besides...
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David M. Webb