Just when I was feeling a bit sad that the bulk of my emails these days seem to be either work-related or news alerts, along came an “urgent” and very personal note from my new friend, Mr. Hong Achai. He seems like a nice man, aside from his total ignorance about shari`a inheritance prescriptions.
Below is his email, with the usual commentary:
I am Mr. Hong Achai credit officer of the Hang Seng Bank Ltd. I have an urgent and very confidential business proposition for you. I honestly apologize and hope I do not cause you much embarrassment by contacting you through this means for a transaction of this magnitude, but this is due to confidentiality and prompt access reposed on this medium, sorry my English is not very good. Furthermore, due to this issue on my hands now, it became necessary for me to seek your assistance, and it is imperative for me to know your opinion.
[I’m not embarrassed at all – I love being asked for my opinion. And I’m going to be working hard to get the phrase “reposed on this medium” into wider circulation.]
Five years ago, a Saudi Arabian Oil Consultant/Contractor with the Chinese Petroleum and Chemical corporation Mr. Al-Rahman Al Saud made a numbered time (Fixed) Deposit for twelve calendar months, valued at US$13,000,000.00 (Thirteen Million United State Dollars only) in my branch. Upon maturity, I sent a routine notification to his forwarding address but got no reply. After a month, we sent a reminder and finally we discovered from his contract employers, the Hong Kong Petroleum and Chemical Corporation that Mr. Al-Rahman Al Saud died from an automobile accident.
[I don’t really understand what kind of deposit this is. Al Saud put in the same amount of money that was available at maturity? What? And: “Thirteen Million United States Dollars only”? I think the “only” is a matter of opinion.
Also, I’m no China expert, but I imagine that the Hong Kong Petroleum and Chemical Corporation would be quite irked to know that it was also described as the Chinese Petroleum and Chemical Corporation.]
On further investigation, I found out that he died without making a WILL and all attempts to trace his next of kin were fruitless. I therefore made further investigation and discovered that Mr.-Rahman Al Saud did not declare any kin or relations in all his official documents, including his Bank Deposit paperwork in my Bank. This sum of US$13,000,000.00 (Thirteen Million United State Dollars only) is still sitting in my Bank and the interest is being rolled over with the principal sum at the end of each year. No one will ever come forward to claim it. According to Laws of Hong Kong, at the expiration of 5 (five) years, the money will revert to the ownership of the Hong Kong Government if nobody applies to claim the fund.
[Again with the “only”. I’d like to hear more about the amount of interest, and why it isn’t being calculated as part of the principal. I’d also like to point out that Al Saud may not have made a will because as a Saudi citizen, he wouldn’t need one: shari`a principles are fairly clear, at least for Sunnis, about how estates are divided.]
Consequently, my proposal is that I will like you as a foreigner to stand in as the next of kin to Mr. Al-Rahman Al Saud so that the fruits of this old man’s labor will not get into the hands of some corrupt government officials. This is simple, I will like you to provide immediately your full names and address so that the attorney will prepare the necessary documents and affidavits that will put you in place as the next of kin. We shall employ the services of an attorney for drafting and notarization of the WILL and to obtain the necessary documents and letter of probate/administration in your favor for the transfer. The money will be paid into your account for us to share in the ratio of 50% for me and 40% for you and 10% for Expenses Incurred in the course of the transaction.
[Oh yes – this sounds like a good idea. First of all, the man is dead, so a will isn’t really possible. Second, I imagine that Al Saud has family in KSA and while – judging from the last name – $13 million might indeed seem like chump change to them, I’d rather not risk both legal indemnity and the wrath of the Saudi royals.]
There is no risk at all as all the paperwork for this transaction will be done by the attorney and with my position as the credit officer guarantees the successful execution of this transaction. Upon your response, I shall then provide you with more details and relevant documents that will help you understand the transaction. Please send me your confidential telephone and fax numbers for easy communication. You should observe utmost confidentiality, and rest assured that this transaction would be most profitable for both of us because I shall require your assistance to invest my share in your country.
[The attorney will get only whatever part of the 10% for “expenses” goes towards legal fees, and you say that there will be “no risk at all”? Why am I skeptical … ?]
Awaiting your urgent reply.
Thanks and regards.
Mr. Hong Achai
I think I’ll spare my conscience on this one – maybe those news alerts aren’t such bad inbox fillers after all.