Chinachem

Tony Chan hearing will be shorter than expected

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 May, 2012, 12:00am

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A preliminary hearing in the criminal case against self-styled fung shui master Tony Chan Chun-chuen will be far shorter than expected, as only three prosecution witnesses will testify, a court heard yesterday.

Chan, 52, is charged with forgery and use of a fake will purportedly created by businesswoman Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum in a legal fight with the Chinachem Charitable Foundation over her estimated HK$50 billion estate. Wang, then Asia's richest woman, died of cancer in April 2007 at the age of 69.

Chan, who appeared in Eastern Court yesterday, is seeking to have the proceedings halted for good, on the grounds that the 'forged' will had been materially altered by chemicals used in forensic testing.

Prosecutor David Perry, a British Queen's Counsel, said the prosecution and the defence had agreed on some details, meaning that instead of the 26 witnesses the prosecution planned to call, only two chemists and a police officer would appear.

He said the hearing could end next week. It had initially been expected to take 30 days.

The court also heard arguments as to whether a magistrate had the power to stay the proceedings. Acting Principal Magistrate David Dufton said in most cases decisions on a stay of proceedings had been made by a higher court. He gave the parties until tomorrow to make submissions.

The court also lifted media reporting restrictions and the case was adjourned until Thursday.

Meanwhile, in a separate hearing yesterday, High Court Master Reuden Lai Tat-cheung granted an order, placing a charge over certain properties owned by Chan. This means Chan's creditors can recoup their debt if the properties are sold.

Chan had earlier been ordered to pay most of the foundation's costs and all the estate administrator's costs from the lawsuit over Wang's will. The foundation seeks HK$150 million and the administrators HK$160 million. Last December, a judge froze HK$130 million of Chan's assets, saying there was a risk he will disperse what he had to avoid paying.

Additional reporting by Joyce Man