Legal fight finally over as Foks sign settlement
Family members of the late Henry Fok Ying-tung, who have been split over the tycoon's multibillion-dollar estate, finally signed an out-of-court agreement yesterday ending all legal actions between them.
Benjamin Fok Chun-yue, who initiated the court fight, had asked the court to remove his elder brother Ian Fok Chun-wan, and an aunt, as executors of the estate.
Under the confidential agreement, Benjamin Fok, Ian Fok and their 85-year-old aunt, Fok Mo-kan, will remain co-executors of the estate. Benjamin Fok had wanted his brother removed on the basis that he took assets from the estate without the knowledge or consent of other executors.
He also wanted his aunt to be dislodged for her age and lack of contribution to the estate's administration.
A further 14 family members, including outgoing culture sector lawmaker Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, had interests affected by the outcome of the fight. The agreement, which ends three lawsuits between family members, was announced in the Court of First Instance as the two brothers made their first appearance in court.
Michael Thomas SC, for Benjamin Fok, told the court: 'The family ... confirm that they have come to an agreement as to how to resolve the recent litigation concerning the administration of the deceased's estate as a result of which satisfactory provisions have been made regarding the ongoing proceedings.'
The two brothers, from Henry Fok's first family, did not speak to each other and would not pose together for a photo together despite repeated invitations from reporters.
Outside court, Benjamin Fok said he was 'satisfied' with the settlement. When asked whether they had settled out of respect for their late father, he replied: 'This is a good question.'
Ian Fok said: 'We are a family. We all want to resolve the matter ... I believe everyone is satisfied with the terms.'
About 50 reporters, photographers and video-journalists mobbed the two brothers as they left the court building. The confidential agreement was signed by all members of Henry Fok's first family, and the estate executors, before the lawyers reported to court at 4pm.
The deal was expected to be signed by the second and third families later in the afternoon, Thomas said. Henry Fok died aged 83 from cancer in 2006. He married three times and had 13 children. The estate consists of assets worth HK$1.4 billion and shares in Henry Fok Estates, a holding company.
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.
Also settled were the lawsuit Benjamin Fok had brought to recover from Ian Fok shareholdings in several offshore firms, offshore bank account assets and shares in Henry Fok Estates - as well as Benjamin Fok's application to obtain his father's financial records from eldest brother Timothy Fok.
Concluding the case, Thomas recited a legal maxim in Latin which means: 'It is for the public good that there be an end of litigation.'