Squabbling Fok sons reach deal on his estate

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 10:56pm


The sons of late tycoon Henry Fok Ying-tung have reached an agreement 'in principle' to settle a legal battle over their father's multibillion-dollar estate out of court, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday.

Benjamin Fok Chun-yue, who initiated the court battle, his elder brother Ian Fok Chun-wan and 14 family members were in the process of putting the agreement into writing yesterday afternoon.

An out-of-court agreement would mean the family could avoid having its disagreements aired in public and would also prevent a lengthy and expensive court fight that would be likely to involve more than 20 lawyers, including six senior barristers.

Linda Chan SC, for one of the defendants, Benjamin's sister Nora Fok Lai-lor, said: 'The position is that in principle agreement has been reached between all parties.'

Chan said lawyers were 'in the final stage of the documentation of the agreement', explaining why many of the lawyers who had been due back in court to reveal whether the case would go ahead were absent. The case is one of three lawsuits over Fok's fortune.

Chan said the parties were expecting to tell the court the 'final outcome' at 2.30pm today and were confident a hearing would not be necessary.

Mr Justice Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor adjourned the case until today.

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

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 aged 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 sports and 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.

It has not been revealed in court whether the other two lawsuits will be settled under any agreement.