Monk promised me share of his riches, disciple tells court

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 March, 2010, 12:00am

A disciple of a Buddhist monk is objecting to a plan to donate his multimillion-dollar estate to charity because she says he promised to give her some of his wealth, including eight gold bars and more than HK$430,000.

'I thought it would have been a lot better if he had found a lawyer to write a will to pass on his estate to me, but at that time I did not say it. If I had said it, I would have been seen as greedy and I would have wasted all the spiritual practice I've worked on,' Ko Oi-chi said in the Court of First Instance.

Yesterday the court was told that Ko objected to an application by the Reverend Ng Siu-quing - also known as Yuan Jiong, deputy chairman of the Buddhist Association of Macau - and Chow Chi-ming to have a charitable trust set up for the estate left by the Reverend Ip So-kwong, also known as Venerable Yuen Hang.

Ng, Chow and Ko are the co-trustees of Ip's estate, which was believed to total HK$26.8 million in the form of fixed and savings deposits in Hong Kong dollars and foreign currencies.

It also includes cash, gold bars, gold coins and jewellery left in safe deposit boxes that were valued at HK$1.66 million in 1992.

The court was told that Ip accumulated his wealth through conducting fung shui business in the 1980s.

Ip, who died in 1989, had hand-written a will in June 1973 and his estate was held in a trust.

Barrister Chong Kai-man, for Ng and Chow, said his clients proposed donating the estate to a charitable fund managed by the Centre of Buddhist Studies with the University of Hong Kong.

Chong said the plan had been approved by the government, which would oversee the trust, and he asked the court to determine if Ko had shown that those items she claimed from the estate belonged to her.

'Our stance is neutral. If Ko has proved her claim, she can take back the property,' Chong said.

The judge reserved his judgment yesterday.

Ko, 50, said Ip left her and her sister the foreign currency savings, amounting to HK$430,814, eight gold bars, gold coins and two jade bracelets. She said Ip had told her about his plans to give her and her sister the items since she was seven years old.

'Ip said he would give them to me and my sister if I had been good, and he wouldn't give any to me if I did not behave well,' she said yesterday, adding that it was Ip's intention to provide for her and her sister.

She said some of the valuables were bought with money from her lai see packets over several years.