Hints of a deal on day one of battle for Fok fortune
The sons of late tycoon Henry Fok Ying-tung, who are in dispute over their father's multibillion-dollar estate, raised the possibility of a deal yesterday as the first of three lawsuits reached court.
Proceedings were adjourned until today after lawyers for Benjamin Fok Chun-yue, who is bringing the case against his elder brother Ian Fok Chun-wan and other family members, told the Court of First Instance he was hopeful that an 'agreement' could be reached after intensive discussions between the parties.
But Michael Thomas SC, for Benjamin Fok, told Mr Justice Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor that there was 'no guarantee'.
Lawyers declined to confirm whether the 'agreement' referred to meant a settlement of the case.
At the heart of the battle is an estate consisting of assets worth HK$1.4 billion and shares in Henry Fok Estates.
Henry Fok died from cancer aged 83 in 2006. He married three times and had 13 children.
In 2006, Forbes ranked him the 181st wealthiest person in the world, worth an estimated US$3.7 billion. It ranked his descendants in ninth place in a list of Hong Kong's 40 richest in 2008, with a combined worth of US$4.5 billion.
Benjamin's application yesterday was for a summary judgment - a ruling without a formal trial - that his brother, businessman and Silver Bauhinia Star-holder Ian Fok, be removed as an executor on the basis that he took assets from the estate without the knowledge or consent of other executors.
Benjamin Fok, one of three executors, also accuses his brother of failing to provide the information and authorisations needed for the proper administration of the estate.
He is seeking to remove his 85-year-old aunt Fok Mo-kan as an executor due to her age and lack of contribution to the estate's administration.
Another 14 Fok family members were named as defendants so they would be bound by the court ruling.
In another lawsuit, Benjamin Fok is seeking to recover from Ian Fok the shareholdings in several offshore firms, offshore bank account assets and shares in Henry Fok Estates.
In the third case, Benjamin Fok is suing his eldest brother, outgoing culture sector lawmaker Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, to obtain a 'black book' containing his father's financial records, which Timothy Fok allegedly refuses to hand over.
According to court documents, Ian Fok claims he paid for 350 ordinary shares in Henry Fok Estates. Benjamin Fok says the shares are held by a company of which the three brothers are shareholders and directors.
Benjamin Fok says that, in 2008, Ian Fok transferredHK$53 million from three overseas bank accounts in the joint name of Ian and their father to his personal accounts. Benjamin Fok also alleges that Ian Fok gave HK$509 million to their father's families by his second and third wives and failed to provide the executor with access to jewellery, artefacts and furniture worth HK$90 million.