Fok sons ask for time in battle over legacy

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 10:50pm
 

The sons of the late tycoon Henry Fok Ying-tung, at loggerheads over their father's extensive estate, will tell the Court of First Instance today whether they have reached an out-of-court agreement.

Their negotiations, which continued from Tuesday morning, were aimed at avoiding three lawsuits brought by Benjamin Fok Chun-yue (pictured) against his elder brother Ian Fok Chun-wan and other family members.

The estate consists of assets worth HK$1.4 billion and shares in Henry Fok Estates, a holding company.

Lawyers in the case appeared in court yesterday to ask for more time to reach an agreement, saying the negotiations had continued until 4am yesterday.

The proceedings had been adjourned until yesterday to let the negotiations proceed.

Yesterday, Michael Thomas SC, for Benjamin Fok, initially told the Court of First Instance that he and lawyers for the other parties wanted to submit a confidential document to the court, to support their application for an adjournment from yesterday until today and for extra hearing days if negotiations broke down.

He asked that the application be heard in the judge's room, or in court behind closed doors, to avoid public and media speculation.

In the event, Mr Justice Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor allowed them more time without requiring the confidential information.

The case resumes today in the afternoon, when the court will be told of the outcome of the negotiations. If unsuccessful, full arguments will be heard immediately and will continue tomorrow and on Monday.

Henry Fok, who was always one step ahead in investing on the mainland and rose to be a vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, died from cancer in 2006 at age 83. He married three times and had 13 children.

In 2006, Forbes estimated his worth at 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 Fok has applied 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 is also 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.

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.

Another 14 Fok family members were named as defendants, so they will be bound by the court ruling.

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