Closing arguments begin in Nina Wang case inheritance wrangle

Updated: 2009-09-22 08:11

By Teddy Ng(HK Edition)

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HONG KONG: Closing submissions have begun in the court battle over the will of the late Nina Wang with assertions as to why Asia's richest woman heaped nearly HK$2.1 billion on her fung shui teacher.

Court of First Instance was told yesterday the money was given to Tony Chan Chun-chuen on three occasions because Wang wanted Chan established as a successful businessman who could lead the Chinachem group.

Chan's counsel, Ian Mill, said in his closing submission the court should consider the relationship between Chan and Wang in rendering judgment as to who should inherit Wang's estate.

That relationship, by Chan's account was that he was Wang's secret lover during a span of years between 1992 and 2007, the year Wang died at the age of 69. Chan claims to be Wang's sole beneficiary based on a dispute will dated October 2006.

The court heard earlier that Wang gave Chan HK$688 million on three occasions between 2005 and 2006.

Mill said the payments were made as Wang tried to induce Chan to become chairman of the Chinachem group.

Wang wanted to build up Chan as a man of substance, Mill said.

"The plaintiff's attempt to cast doubts on the relationship between Nina Wang and my client was unfortunate and totally ill-founded," Mill argued.

Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon questioned the necessity for Wang to make large payments to Chan if she intended to leave him her entire estate.

Mill explained that Wang did not anticipate that she would die when making the payments because she was a fighter until her illness began to overtake her in October 2006.

Mill said the Chinachem Charitable Foundation, which was named beneficiary of Wang's estate based on a 2002 will, has ignored the nature of the relationship between Chan and Wang.

He said Wang's siblings idealized the relationship between their eldest sister and her husband Teddy. The judgment by the Court of Final Appeal concerning Nina's own legal battle against her father-in-law over Teddy's estate, however, took note of serious marital problems. Teddy, Mill advanced, suspected Nina of having adulterous affairs.

Mill said Nina Wang had given gifts and her pigtail to Chan, aged 49, and she wanted to be buried in Po Lin Monastery, where a couplet composed by Chan's uncle is inscribed.

Mill rejected assertions that the 2006 will is a forgery, saying it is written in English, in which Chan is not proficient.

He said Chan would not forge a will because of the huge risk involved.

Counsel for Chinachem Denis Chang said Chan presented the court with two documents. One was the 2006 will upon which Chan bases his claim and the other is a draft with an imprint of the signatures. But the attesting witnesses had testified during the trial that there was only one page, and no draft.

Chang also said the report by Audrey Giles, a handwriting expert originally hired by Chan, said Nina Wang signed her name on top of the crease of the will.

Chang asserted that someone had prepared a folded document, and the forger signed Wang's name on top of the crease.

Chang will continue his closing submission today.

(HK Edition 09/22/2009 page1)