People and Business: John Ho Park only wants to help

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The Independent Online
FINBARR O'CONNELL, liquidator of Griffin, has been busy interviewing John Ho Park for five hours last Thursday night about the pounds 7m collapse of the Chicago-based futures broker.

This week Mr O'Connell of accountants Grant Thornton has been asked by the directors of another derivatives business shut down by City regulators to come in and sort things out.

At Griffin Mr O'Connell is seeking to plug a pounds 6.5m "black hole" left by young Mr Park's rash dealing in German futures.

At International Futures Corporation (IFC), a firm dealing in foreign exchange derivatives that was closed by the Financial Services Authority last Tuesday, Mr O'Connell is looking at a deficit of a mere pounds 200,000.

"It's a pity IFC had to go down for such a small amount," Mr O'Connell said yesterday.

Luckily in IFC's case it looks as if the firm's 400-odd clients in the City will agree to Mr O'Connell's scheme for paying them all out pro-rata, meaning the clients should get 80 per cent of their money back immediately.

The 110 traders from the Liffe floor who fell victim to the Griffin collapse face a much longer wait before they receive anything. Mr O'Connell said the interview with Mr Park, who had been accompanied by a lawyer, had been "helpful - although I may have to interview him again. He wants to be helpful."

CHRIS GENT, chief executive of Vodafone and victorious architect of the pounds 37bn merger with US rival AirTouch, is surprisingly ambivalent about becoming head of the world's largest mobile phone company.

Speaking to a colleague of mine on a traditional land line on Sunday Mr Gent heard his mobile-phone ringing and said: "Just let me switch this off."

"The trouble with mobile phones is that they never stop ringing."

GREG DYKE, a director of Pearson and former head of Channel Four, is being widely tipped to succeed John Birt as director general of the BBC. Mr Dyke is, of course, reluctant to comment. The bearded broadcaster is also tipped to become a Labour Lord in the next Honours List.

Mr Dyke told colleagues at Pearson: "It's bad enough being called Greg Dyke, but to be called Lord Dyke would be too much."

THE TREASURY SOLICITOR, the police and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) are all on the lookout for Raymond Patrick Grant, also known as Ibrahim Patrick Grant, who has broken a three-year-old injunction concerning his dealing in "Inner Sanctum", an illegal money circulation scheme.

Mr Grant's illegal schemes have been shut down in the UK by regulators but are continuing on the Internet, and are particularly active in the US, Australia and Germany.

Yesterday Mr Justice Jacobs sentenced Mr Grant to 15 months in prison for breaching the injunction. Mr Grant did not attend the hearing and his whereabouts are unknown.

Mr Grant offered investors the chance to earn 4.25 per cent per month by investing in a company called Courtney Agencies. He also offered incentives to clients who introduced new investors. All these schemes were put into liquidation last July by the High Court.

If you bump into Mr Grant, please call the Treasury Solicitor on 0171 210 3142, or the local police.

THE SQUARE MILE appears to be a fertile place at the moment, at least for press spokespeople. Congratulations to Patricia Hamzahee, managing director of marketing and communications for Greenwich NatWest, who had twins on Friday, one of each, Armando and Alexandra.

Coincidentally, Caroline Eccles of the Barclays Capital press office, who used to work with Ms Hamzahee at Lehman Brothers, is also awaiting her second child.

IF YOU have any news you wish to share with "People and Business", please e-mail j.willcock@independent.co.uk.

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