HONG KONG (Reuters) - A Hong Kong jury found the lover of the late billionaire tycoon Nina Wang guilty on Thursday of forging a will naming him the sole beneficiary of her estimated $4 billion estate.
After more than 20 hours of deliberations, the jury voted 6 to 2 in the High Court to convict Peter Chan, formerly known as Tony Chan, on a charge of forgery. Chan had pleaded not guilty to a number of charges, including forgery and using a forged document.
The proceedings had transfixed Hong Kong with revelations of adultery and bizarre rituals associated with “feng shui”, a Chinese philosophy meaning “wind-water”, aimed at creating harmonious surroundings and harnessing natural energies.
Wang, known as “Little Sweetie”, was one of Asia’s wealthiest women, with a business empire including the Chinachem Group, Hong Kong’s largest private property developer. She died of cancer in 2007, aged 69.
The verdict is the latest setback for the married Chan, who in March was ordered to pay HK$340 million ($43.8 million) in tax arrears, and has been hit by the lengthy and costly legal battle for Wang’s estate that he lost in 2011.
Chan changed his name from Tony after that ruling and converted to Christianity this year.
After Thursday’s verdict, Chan appeared flushed and lowered his head in the witness box, but showed no outward emotion.
“Without the lawsuits, I would not have gone to church and would not have experienced God,” Chan told the South China Morning Post in an earlier interview. “I have no regrets.”
In 2011, the High Court upheld a previous judgment that a 2006 will leaving Wang’s entire $4 billion estate, one of Asia’s largest fortunes, to her former lover and feng shui master was a forgery. Instead, it upheld an earlier will bequeathing her fortune to a charitable foundation.
The jury had earlier been asked by Justice Andrew Macrae to put aside personal feelings in making their judgment, the South China Morning Post reported, amid extensive media coverage.
The judge is expected to issue a sentence on Friday morning.
Reporting by Brian Yap, Grace Li and James Pomfret; Editing by Ron Popeski