Millions missing, says tycoon's son
Sean Hotung says trusts have fallen into the red and trustee is avoids questions
A son of billionaire Eric Hotung is seeking clarification over what has happened to the $100 million supposedly put into two trusts the tycoon set up for him and his siblings more than a quarter of a century ago.
Sean Hotung, the fourth child of Eric Hotung, said he found out only last week that the two companies owned by the two trusts had had fallen into the red, according to financial figures for 2003.
The 78-year-old billionaire revoked the trusts last year after a series of lawsuits his children brought against the two trustees beginning in 2002.
Winnie Ho Yuen-ki, a cousin of Eric Hotung and a younger sister of tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun, was appointed trustee for his three sons, and Hillhead was the registed trustee for his three daughters.
In March, High Court Judge Robert Tang Ching returned a victory to the children by ruling that the father had no right to revoke the trusts. In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Sean Hotung said he yesterday sent letters to the trustees listing the 'unexplainable financial irregularities' concerning the assets held under the trusts. He also asked the trustees to resolve the issue in an 'honest, open and professional' manner.
'I am going to help my father find the money. He said under oath in court in January this year that there was approximately $100 million in the two trusts,' he said.
The son said he was considering legal action if the trustees insisted on paying no heed to his repeated requests.
The 40-year-old said that his father had earlier said he would not let his children touch his money. 'My father doesn't want anyone to get his hands on anything ... It's only $100 million, it's really not that much money for someone who's so rich,' he said.
Audit reports provided by Hillhead to Sean Hotung last week and revealed to the Post indicate that in March 31, 2003, the accumulated loss of Hotung Investment (China), one of the two companies the children were entitled to hold shares in, amounted to more than $16.7 million.
The other company, Hotung Enterprises, reported a net loss of $654,491 in the 2003 financial year.
Sean Hotung said Winnie Ho had refused to provide details of the assets of the trusts, despite he and his brother's repeated requests to see them since 2002. He said he was also unable to get last year's audit report from Hillhead.
He said he had sent a total of 18 proposals to his father in the past five years in an attempt to settle the issue outside of court. He would rather it be settled in private.
'This could have been settled on day one. For the sake of the family, myself and my brother have been trying to settle it in private,' he said.
'But family name is no concern to my father.'
Eric Hotung, who is not in Hong Kong, could not be reached for comment yesterday.