Chinachem

Administrator for Nina Wang estate

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2007, 12:00am

An administrator has been appointed to the estate of Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum, Asia's richest woman who died in April.

Mr Justice Andrew Cheung Kui-nung, in the Court of First Instance, appointed Joseph Lo Kin-ching and Derek Lai Kar-yan, partners of accounting firm Deloitte, to ensure the interests of the estate are looked after while the future of the estimated HK$100 billion fortune is decided.

The decision followed an application for the appointment of an administrator by lawyers for Tony Chan Chun-chuen, who was a close friend of Wang and claims to have a will that leaves the entire estate to him.

Facing off against Mr Chan is the Chinachem Charitable Foundation, controlled by Wang's siblings, which says it has a will from 2002 that leaves it everything. Also involved is the secretary for justice, who acts as the guardian of charities and is watching to see if he will be required to join in at any point.

Wang Din-shin - the 97-year-old father-in-law of Nina Wang who fought her for a decade over the share of the fortune belonging to his son, Teddy Wang Teh-huei, who was kidnapped in 1990 and never seen again - has also indicated he believes he is entitled to a share of the fortune.

However, Wang Din-shin has so far not been represented at the hearings and Mr Chan's side has indicated they may move to have him prevented from playing any part in proceedings. Jonathan Harris SC, for Mr Chan, told the court yesterday that his client was not ready to take that step just yet.

There had been allegations in the press that Mr Chan was unhappy at some decisions being made by the management of the estate's flagship company, Chinachem.

Noting that the battle was likely to be a protracted one, Mr Justice Cheung said he would exercise his discretion in appointing the administrator, but this in no way suggested he disapproved of how the company had so far been run.

'[It] is desirable to ensure that controversial decisions are not taken without reference to the administrators,' Mr Justice Cheung said. 'And conversely, difficult decisions that need to be taken may be taken after due consultation ... without fear of subsequent criticism.'

Ambrose Ho SC, representing the government, said the secretary for justice had no interest in joining the present action, but this might change once documents were filed and the contest began in earnest.

Mr Justice Cheung urged all parties to keep costs down as much as possible, especially given that the interests of a charity might be at stake.