Expert casts doubt on claim will is forged

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 June, 2009, 12:00am

A forensic handwriting expert said yesterday he had never seen the kind of complex forgery alleged in the Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum estate case.

Someone would have had to copy three signatures, numbers and printed words on Wang's dispute will - all in different writing styles - to pull off the ruse, Australian Paul Westwood told the trial to decide the late billionaire's heir.

'It is extremely rare to come across a situation like this ... and to execute it without any signs of difficulty at all,' he said.

Mr Westwood, who runs a handwriting analysis lab in Sydney, cast doubt on claims that a will held by fung shui master Tony Chan Chun-chuen, leaving him Wang's HK$100 billion property fortune, was a forgery. Mr Westwood said it was highly probable that Wang's writing appeared on the document, while there was compelling evidence the signature of attesting witness Ng Shung-mo was genuine.

It was highly unlikely anyone other than solicitor Winfield Wong Wing-cheung, another witness, signed the will, Mr Westwood said.

His conclusion was at odds with testimony from Robert Radley, a forensic handwriting expert based in Britain, who said the signatures of Wang and Mr Wong were forged. He could not conclude whether Mr Ng's signature was a fake.

Mr Radley was called by Chinachem Charitable Foundation, Mr Chan's rival in the estate battle. The Australian expert also rejected Mr Radley's contention that it was unnecessary to look at more than 40-odd writing samples to decide whether a document was a forgery.

'Forty or so won't cut it, quite frankly,' Mr Westwood said.

Even Wang's 135 original writing samples - from 2002 and 2007 - were not enough to conclude it was a forgery, he added. 'I don't consider that a particularly large number when you are eliminating someone.'

Mr Radley's definition of what constituted a fake would mean at least one of Wang's genuine signatures was forged, Mr Westwood said.

Earlier, Mr Radley said he was able to conclude Mr Wong's writing was forged after he looked at just seven additional signature samples to the ones he had already been supplied.

He had examined 35 samples of Mr Wong's signature and he thought it was only a moderate attempt of forgery after he studied the first 28.

Mr Radley told the court he usually requested only about 15 to 20 signature samples to ascertain the authenticity.

The lawyer's signature was a fake because it contained too many different features that could not be explained by external factors, such as writing in a cramped space.

Samples of genuine signatures with less than four distinctive features could have been caused by an external factor that affected handwriting, but it was likely to be a forgery when a single signature contained too many inaccuracies.

Mr Radley said the forgery was a high-quality copy and he believed the alleged forger was a skilled calligrapher who was able to appreciate many features in the original signatures.

Finding a good calligrapher to do the fake was fairly easy given the large number of them in Hong Kong and the inducement could be very high in this case, Mr Radley said.