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Meeting PlaceEncounters across Cultures in Hong Kong, 1841-1984$
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Elizabeth Sinn and Christopher Munn

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9789888390847

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888390847.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM HONG KONG SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.hongkong.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Hong Kong University Press, 2021. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HKSO for personal use.date: 22 September 2021

Carvalho Yeo and the 1928 Hong Kong Treasury Swindle

Carvalho Yeo and the 1928 Hong Kong Treasury Swindle

(p.153) 8 Carvalho Yeo and the 1928 Hong Kong Treasury Swindle
Meeting Place

Christopher Munn

Hong Kong University Press

In 1928 Carvalho Yeo was accused of stealing more than a quarter of a million dollars from the Government Treasury through an elaborate cheque fraud. Yeo was traced to Shanghai and brought back to Hong Kong, where, after a sensational trial before the Supreme Court, he was convicted and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. His actions exposed chaotic management in the Treasury and brought into question the competence of senior government officials. Carvalho Yeo was a man of ‘mysterious antecedents and doubtful nationality’ – a criminal wanted by police in other Asian cities before he came to Hong Kong. Possibly of ‘Sino-Siamese’ origins, he presented himself by turns as a Chinese, a Portuguese, and a British subject, and deployed various aliases, fictional partners, and fake companies to carry out his plans. His story fascinated the Hong Kong public as much as it embarrassed the authorities. The chapter asks what Yeo’s manipulation of identities tells us about relations between the communities in early twentieth-century Hong Kong and suggests that, while racial divides were real and often rigid, individual choices sometimes challenged this rigidity, even – as in Carvalho Yeo’s case – to the point of making a farce out of the divides.

Keywords:   Hong Kong, Carvalho Yeo, Portuguese, Ethnic boundaries, Forgery, Supreme Court, Government Treasury

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