Hotels tycoon in legal fight over relative's estate

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 December, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 December, 1999, 12:00am

The head of Hong Kong's most prominent Indian clan is being sued for alleged mismanagement of his late father-in-law's estate.

Hari Naroomal Harilela is accused in a High Court writ of causing loss to the estate while making profits for himself.

The chairman of the Harilela Hotels Group, which operates the Holiday Inn Golden Mile in Tsim Sha Tsui, and other hotels around Asia, is one of two executors of a will of Manghanmal Hiranand Ramchandani. The other is his wife, Padma Hari Harilela, the daughter of Ramchandani.

The Harilelas are named as two of three defendants in the action, seeking unspecified damages. Also named is Ramchand Gopaldas Hiranand, the trustee of the estate.

The writ demands the trio 'make good' the alleged, but unspecified loss.

Ramchandani, who died on August 30, 1994, made a will in Hong Kong on April 26, 1986, naming the Harilelas as its executors, the writ says. He also made two other wills - written in Los Angeles on December 30, 1983 and November 22, 1988, it says.

In the first two wills, he made his son, Lal Manghanmal Hiranand, the sole beneficiary, according to the writ, while the last named another four - daughter-in-law Kamla Lal Hiranand, grandson Shaon Lal Hiranand and granddaughters Priya and Ravine Lal Hiranand. All five alleged beneficiaries are taking the three defendants to court for an account of the deceased's assets.

They are asking the court to declare the 1986 will invalid.

The Harilelas obtained from the courts the right to manage the estate on May 6 last year.

The plaintiffs are also seeking an inquiry into an alleged loss in the estate owing to 'the wilful default or fraudulent, reckless, negligent or other misconduct' by the Harilelas.

The writ also demands a probe into an alleged loss resulting from the trustees' 'failure' to give a proper account of properties and assets held on trust.

Mr Harilela could not be contacted for comment last night.