Tycoon's concubine fends off legal appeal

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 September, 2007, 12:00am

The concubine of a dead tycoon has again fended off an attempt by the children of the man's first wife to wrest control of three companies worth more than HK$100 million.

Cheung Kung-hai, a poorly educated man from Fujian province who spoke limited Cantonese and no English, died in 2000, leaving a fortune described as 'immense' by the Court of Appeal.

He left 70 per cent of his estate to Chin Lan-hong, whom he had taken as his concubine in 1947, and his three sons by her. The rest was distributed among the family from his first marriage to Lim Bee, who died in 1977.

The Court of Appeal yesterday said there was tension between the families even before Cheung's death.

Revelations that the tycoon's interests in three Liberian companies, Worldcup, Profit-taking and Doran, had been given as gifts to Ms Chin in 1985 fanned the flames. Worldcup amassed more than HK$92 million of assets from when it was formed in 1984 to Cheung's death. Meanwhile, Profit-taking's Hong Kong property holdings generated dividends worth about HK$9 million.

Several of the beneficiaries from Lim Bee's family had questioned whether those gifts were properly made and if the companies should have been included in the estate.

Last year, Mr Justice Anselmo Reyes, in the Court of First Instance, declared the gifts legal, ruling that the firms were not part of the estate.

The family challenged the decision but the Court of Appeal, comprising Mr Justice Anthony Rogers, Mrs Justice Doreen Le Pichon and Mr Justice Arjan Sakhrani dismissed the appeal and ordered costs to be paid by the complaining parties.

Mr Justice Rogers said bad blood between the parties ran so deep that litigation was unlikely to cease, 'at least not until the parties' monies inherited from Cheung Kung-hai are depleted'.