HONG KONG (Reuters) - The ex-lover and feng shui master of late Hong Kong billionaire Nina Wang was formally charged by police on Thursday with forgery of a will he claimed entitled him to the heiress's huge estate.
The move further stacks the odds against Tony Chan's gritty and controversial bid to wrest control of one of Asia's largest private fortunes after a court ruled last year that a will bequeathing Wang's entire $4 billion estate to him was a forgery.
Instead, an earlier 2002 will, leaving Wang's wealth largely to charity, was deemed genuine.
"After extensive police investigation and having sought advice from the Department of Justice, the subject male is formally charged today," the police said in a statement.
Chan, a married father of three at the time of his affair with Wang, was escorted by police to court.
He has steadfastly maintained the will was genuine and penned by Wang out of love.
He was granted bail of HK$20 million ($2.57 million), though ordered to surrender his travel documents and to remain in his home in the city's exclusive Peak district.
Pressure has mounted on Chan since his failed court battle, including rejected appeal applications, while being slapped with an order to pay outstanding taxes of HK$347 million ($44 million) from nearly HK$2 billion in feng shui consultation fees that Wang had paid.
Chan, however, claimed the payments were "gifts of love" and shouldn't be taxed. He recently told reporters he was under severe psychological stress, while suggesting he wasn't being given fair legal treatment after being described by a judge as "a liar" who'd tailored his evidence to suit his case.
Wang, rated Asia's richest woman, was one of Hong Kong's most colorful tycoons, nicknamed "little sweetie" for her braided pigtails, mini-skirts and giggly persona.
The twists and turns featured revelations of adultery and bizarre rituals associated with feng shui, a Chinese philosophy aimed at optimizing natural energy flows in homes and spaces.
Wang 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.
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 with her father-in-law for control of the estate.
(Reporting by James Pomfret and Xavier Ng; Editing by Kim Coghill)
This story corrects the bail amount to HK$20 million in paragraph 7