Tycoon's father to testify in payout suit
A billionaire who conspired with his real estate tycoon son to stop the son's ex-wife getting her hands on the HK$5.5 billion she is seeking in a divorce payout will testify in the case today.
The father, a fourth-generation member of a wealthy local family identified only by his initials, STL, is expected to be questioned about his role in a 'conspiracy to injure' his former daughter-in-law, TCWF, a solicitor, who is asking for 55 per cent of her ex-husband's assets.
The father and the son in February admitted the conspiracy, which involved the son transferring his Japanese business to his father with a view to reducing his assets and thus cutting his ex-wife's share.
The son, referred in court as LKKS, finished his evidence yesterday after four days in the stand.
He told the Court of First Instance he owed his father about US$100 million on top of 2.4 billion yen (HK$245 million) that he still owed from the 3.5 billion yen start-up fund provided by his father in 1999 for him to develop his real estate business in Japan.
While the son insisted that under the agreement he had to transfer to his father any profits generated from the start-up fund, lawyers for the ex-wife cited e-mail exchanges between the pair to show that this claim was only part of their conspiracy.
Charles Howard QC, for the woman, also suggested that LKKS failed to disclose his securities accounts in an attempt to hide his assets. The ex-husband denied this.
Suggesting that the man had originally intended to support his ex-wife and their daughter, now 3, Howard referred to an e-mail sent in 2007 after the woman became pregnant and before they divorced in 2008.
In the e-mail the man wrote: 'Money is the very least I can do for you, your family and [their daughter]. Apart from that I am sorry to be a miserable man.'
The lawyer suggested the man changed his mind only after entering into a conspiracy with his father.
The ex-husband refused to answer the question. He told the court earlier he had to conspire with his father because otherwise he would be cast out into the street.
When asked why the value of a collection of fine wine worth US$30 million had fallen to US$10 million, the husband said it was because of a drop in the price of the wine.
Howard called this absurd and suggested the value of wine had in fact gone up by a third in recent years.
The hearing continues.