HONG KONG (Reuters Life!) - The former lover of late Hong Kong billionaire Nina Wang lost an appeal to secure control of her wealth on Monday, when the high court upheld a previous judgment in a bitter probate battle.
A little over a year ago, a Hong Kong court had ruled that a will leaving Wang’s entire $4 billion estate, one of Asia’s largest fortunes, to her former lover and feng shui master, Tony Chan, was a forgery.
The court said the money would instead go to charity. Chan appealed the decision.
In a brief hearing, a panel of three judges from Hong Kong’s court of appeal said they “had no hesitation in dismissing this appeal.”
“The first defendant (Chan) has persisted in pursuing a thoroughly dishonest case. In doing so, he has abused the process of the court,” Justice Anthony Rogers told a packed courtroom.
Local media reported that Chan, a married father of three, would appeal the new ruling, likely further prolonging the court battle that has gripped a city obsessed with celebrities.
The twists and turns featured revelations of adultery and bizarre rituals associated with feng shui, a Chinese philosophy stressing the influence of outside forces on a building or space.
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.
After her death, Chan produced a 2006 will which bequeathed Wang’s estate to him, contradicting a 2002 will which left the fortune to the Chinachem Charitable Foundation, overseen by members of Wang’s family.
Born in Shanghai, Wang inherited most of her wealth from her husband, Teddy, who was kidnapped in 1990 and never seen alive again despite the payment of a $33 million ransom. She later fought a legal battle for control of the estate with her nonagenarian father-in-law.
In the latest 47-page judgment, the judges supported an earlier ruling that the signatures purporting to be those of Nina Wang in the 2006 will were forgeries. They described Chan as “untrustworthy and a liar, tailoring his evidence to suit his case as he went along.”
Wang’s brother, Kung Yan-sum, a director with the Chinachem Group, hailed the ruling as just. “He (Chan) was greedy, and that’s why he lost,” he told Hong Kong’s Cable Television. “I‘m very, very happy.”
Editing by Ron Popeski