Court looks to Nina's mother
A new twist loomed in the saga of Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum's multibillion-dollar estate yesterday, when the government said it would involve the late tycoon's elderly mother in the case - against the family's wishes.
Wang (pictured), who as head of property developer Chinachem was once Asia's richest woman, died of cancer in April 2007 at age 69. Her death sparked a lengthy fight over her estate between self-styled fung shui master Tony Chan Chun-chuen and the Chinachem Charitable Foundation. Having lost that battle, Chan faces charges of forgery and using a fake will to bolster his claim.
Yesterday, senior government counsel Cecilia Siu Wing-sze said Wang's mother would have a legal interest in the estate if a court decided Wang's will had no legal standing. When someone dies intestate - without a legally valid will - then immediate family members such as spouses, children and parents are usually awarded the estate.
Siu addressed her remarks to Court of First Instance Judge Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor at a hearing in chambers yesterday. The judge scheduled a three-day hearing for December that will decide how Wang's will is to be interpreted and whether parts of it are legally invalid.
Siu said: 'The deceased [Wang] was survived by her mother. We may want to join [add] the mother as a [party] in the proceeding. We are preparing the [notification] document and will try to ascertain the details of her address [to send it to her],' Siu told Poon.
In response, solicitor Keith Ho Man-kei, for the foundation, said the family had been told the government planned to add Wang's mother as a party to the legal proceeding. But the family disagreed with the move.
Speaking outside court, Ho said the family was upset by the plan because they wanted their mother to enjoy her life rather than getting caught up in legal wrangling. She lives on the mainland.
The family insisted neither they nor their mother would pocket the multibillion-dollar estate if the court ruled that it belonged to them, Ho said. Rather, all the money will go to charity.
'The family has written an open letter to the Department of Justice to make it clear that neither the mother nor Dr Kung Yan-sum [Nina Wang's brother] nor the siblings would make any claims [on the estate] in case of intestacy,' Ho told the court.
'Dr Kung has made very clear that even if the mother is eventually ruled by the court to have an interest in the estate, all the money she is entitled to will only be donated to charity,' Ho said.
A magistrate last week rejected fung shui master Chan's application to halt criminal proceedings against him. Chan has argued that he would be deprived of a fair trial because forensic tests on the allegedly forged will had destroyed all DNA traces and fingerprints on it.