4-point challenge filed to last Wang will

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 February, 2008, 12:00am

The court case that will decide who inherits the estimated HK$100 billion fortune of Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum moved a step closer to resolution yesterday when the Chinachem Charitable Foundation filed its reply to a rival claim over the estate.

The foundation and businessman Tony Chan Chun-chuen are locked in a face-off over rival wills, dated four years apart, which apparently leave the entire estate to either one.

Brian Gilchrist, solicitor for the foundation, said his client had submitted to the High Court its reply to Mr Chan's claims before a court-ordered deadline expired last night.

Mr Gilchrist said that since it was the foundation that first indicated it had a will, the law presumed, for the sake of argument, that it was in possession of the true will. It was therefore up to those purporting to have a more recent claim over the estate to prove their assertion.

He said the foundation was seeking proof from Mr Chan regarding four points:

That it was indeed Nina Wang who signed the will put forward by Mr Chan;

If it was her signature, that she knew she was signing a will;

That Wang, who was reportedly in hospital when the document was signed, was mentally equipped at the time to knowingly sign her entire fortune over to Mr Chan;

That Mr Chan, as a very close friend, confidant and rumoured lover of Wang, had not exerted undue influence over the tycoon in order to get her to sign the document leaving everything to him.

Wang, the late chairwoman of the Chinachem Group whose estate is estimated to be worth anywhere up to HK$100 billion, died from cancer in April last year.

Her death came less than two years after she had won an acrimonious, decade-long battle with her former father-in-law over the estate of her husband, Chinachem founder Teddy Wang Teh-huei, who was kidnapped, never to be seen again, in 1990.

Mr Gilchrist blamed the delay in finalising the foundation's reply on the complexity of the document, which he said was about 80 pages long.

'So you will understand now why we said in court this matter was a complicated one,' he said.

But Jonathan Midgley, for Mr Chan, denied that the will was in any way as large as was being suggested. 'The will itself is one page,' he said.

Mr Midgley was unable to comment on the reply lodged by the foundation as he had not had sufficient time to review its contents.

As a result he was unable to say whether Mr Chan would be pressing to bring on a trial at the earliest possible time or whether some further legal exchanges might be required.

'This is one of those matters where we just have to see what they have to say,' he said.

Mr Midgley has maintained at previous hearings that his client is willing to settle the matter; but if that is impossible, Mr Chan is ready to take the matter straight to trial.