Wang's fate now in the hands of the judges

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 July, 2005, 12:00am

The fate of Asia's richest woman now rests in the hands of five judges of the Court of Final Appeal after they heard closing arguments from Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum's lawyers yesterday.

The judges must decide whether or not a will purporting to leave the $24 billion Chinachem empire to Mrs Wang was actually signed by her late husband, Teddy Wang Teh-huei, about one month before he was kidnapped and presumably killed in 1990.

Lower courts have found that the documents were forged and that as a result, those documents did not constitute a will.

A previous will, signed by Teddy Wang in 1968, left everything to his father, Wang Din-shin.

Lead counsel for Mrs Wang, Geoffrey Vos QC, has sought to show that the lower courts were wrong to say the documents were forged because they disregarded the sworn statements of the Wangs' late butler, Tse Ping-yim, who was the sole witness to the alleged will. Tse died of liver cancer in December 1999.

Mr Vos also contended that those courts had acted as their own experts when it came to analysing the signatures on the documents.

As a result, he said they wrongly came to the conclusion the documents were forged.

Lawyers for 93-year-old Wang Din-shin disagreed with this and suggested the courts were within their rights to conclude the documents were forged and that Mrs Wang probably had something to do with that forgery.

Lead counsel Neville Thomas QC suggested it was the only conclusion they could reasonably come to.

The legal battle over the Wang estate has raged for more than eight years and has generated so much paperwork that this most recent, and probably final, instalment of the case had to be moved from the Court of Final Appeal's building and into the High Court in order to accommodate it.