Martin Currie was founded 121 years ago in Edinburgh and helped finance the railroads that created modern America. But it was derailed last week when the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the US Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC) hit it with fines totalling £8.6 million for failing to manage a conflict of interest between two clients. The firm was accused of fraudulently disadvantaging one of its American clients by using funds in a way that helped to prevent losses at another of its clients, a private hedge.
Chris Ruffle, the Shanghai-based fund manager in charge of the investments, denied any wrong doing but has left the firm amid claims he was the victim of a smear campaign.
The Yorkshireman is now making money by trading in Scottish history to promote his Treaty Port enterprise in Shandong province.
His castle – complete with four-poster beds, billiard room and vast dining hall – has its own vineyard after Ruffle air-freighted 35,000 Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vines from France to concoct his own vintage.
The Treaty Port Vineyards promotional material describes a Celtic castle, which always has a Saltire flying, designed by Scottish architect Ian Begg from granite drawn from a nearby quarry.
Ruffle, who still manages $500m through his new Shanghai company Open Door Capital Group, already has one castle, having rebuilt the 12th-century Dairsie Castle, near Cupar, Fife, in 1996.
The grammar school boy from Bradford who graduated from Oxford with a degree in Chinese and who is fluent in Mandarin and Japanese, moved to Martin Currie's Shanghai office in 2002 and talked of being responsible for funds worth over £3 billion.
When he told of his castle project last year, he said his wife Tiffany was indifferent.
He said: "If I could build a castle in Scotland, then why not China, too? The reaction from Tiffany and the rest of my family back in the UK was fairly stoic.
"They'd grown used to my exotic schemes and ideas — most of which, I'm proud to say, I'd seen through. So the land was bought and meetings were arranged with local architects and officials."
One local journalist talked about how Ruffle "spins" a bizarre story about Scottish connections to "every deputation of visitors to Treaty Port". The journalist's version of the tale goes: "In the late 1600s, a mysterious Sir James fled Scotland on a treason charge.
"He washed up on the Shandong shores, and built a castle overlooking the ports of Yantai and Penglai. Today that castle still stands, complete with Sir James's original four-poster bed and the London taxi in which he first scaled the Qiushan hills all those centuries ago."