You toil for years on the edge of the South China Sea, meting and doling to an unequal race – a grateful government gives you a lump sum in capital of $5 million Hongkie and another $800,000 odd in the battling Ozzie to fund a well-deserved retirement.
Who do you trust to invest the lucre wisely in these benighted times and see you through to stumps?
Sadly, not your son-in-law.
Nor, if you confront him should you be deflected by his rhetorical response: “What do you think I have done with the money, stolen it? I am your son-in-law.” For the true answer is, yes – “all stolen by me, and all gone”.
The sad end to the retirement funds of Justice Thomas Gall (who died of cancer in early 2006) lately has been revealed.
His son-in-law, one Kevin Slattery, an erstwhile British broker, has pleaded to charges involving swindling six cashed up Hongkongers (including the judge) out of some HK$19 million (divide by seven to get a figure in real money and travel here quick to spend Aussie dollars because it cannot last – so the morose expatriates are hoping!)
Mr Slattery fled the jurisdiction in late 2005 – but there are no Alsatias in modern Britain for the errant conman and he was extradited thence to the HKSAR last year.
He has now put his hands up for 14 charges of theft, 11 of evasion of liability by deception, and five of forgery.
He also hoodwinked a German school teacher, a business consultant, and an investment manager of his acquaintance.
He has offered through his counsel what a journal of record described as a sincere apology.
His sentencing has been adjourned. The money was gone, all gone – paying debts, funding a flamboyant lifestyle, and buying shares in a company.
His unfortunate father-in-law was even persuaded to guarantee a short-term loan for US$625,000 and feared bankruptcy and a forced resignation from the Bench after a distinguished career, when it was called upon after Mr Slattery did not repay the debt.
It seems that when the jig was up he told his wife over the phone about the peculation and then fled.
A sad morality tale – you can choose your friends, but you cannot choose your relatives – but I suppose you can choose not to give the latter all your hard-earned savings.
Percy Lo Kit-Chan