Judge cuts award to HSBC banker over dance lessons

HONG KONG: Mimi Monica Wong, the HSBC banker who won a judgment against two Latin dance teachers in Hong Kong, will get less than half of the interest originally awarded, a High Court judge ruled Thursday.

The judge, Gerard Muttrie, cut the interest in the settlement to 4.6 million Hong Kong dollars, or $597,400, from 9.5 million dollars. The revised interest payment in the settlement, 60 million dollars, is based on bank deposit rates, not the “prime rate plus 1 percent” sought by Wong, Muttrie said.

“The award of the interest is not intended to punish the unsuccessful party,” the judge said. There was no evidence that Wong borrowed to pay for the lessons, he said, “and there is no evidence that, if the money had been paid over to her and invested, she could or would have got a better rate.”

Wong, the head of HSBC’s private banking unit in Asia, won her lawsuit in September. She sued the dance teachers, Mirko Saccani and his wife, Gaynor Fairweather, for the return of the fees, part of a 120-million-dollar advance payment for eight years of lessons.