'Don't take tycoons at their word'
Lawyers for a woman claiming a HK$5.5 billion divorce settlement yesterday asked the court to dis- regard evidence from her ex-husband - a property tycoon - and his billionaire father.
'What we say is in this case, the husband and [the father] should not be believed in anything,' Charles Howard QC, for the woman identified only as 'TCWF', told the Court of First Instance. Howard will begin his final submissions today.
The woman is asking the court to depart from usual practice and grant her more than of half her ex-husband's assets in order to maintain the living standards she and her daughter enjoyed during the seven-year marriage. Also in dispute is whether the son transferred some of his assets to his father to reduce his wealth.
Howard alleges that a 2006 asset transfer agreement between the ex-husband, who can only be identified by his initials 'LKKS', and his father, STL, was forged.
Earlier yesterday, Martin Pointer QC, for the ex-husband, said in his final submission the latter's property business in Japan was in fact a 'retrievable gift' from the father.
The court earlier heard that after the son graduated from university, the father gave him 3.5 billion yen (HK$4.29 billion) as a start-up fund for his real estate business in Japan. Under an agreement between the two, the father could exercise a right to acquire shares of the company as well as its profits at a nominal price.
Pointer said the Japanese business should not be counted in calculating the maintenance claim as the agreement showed the father reserved 'absolute right' to demand the loan and the profits back.
Pointer said it had always been the father's intention to protect his family's wealth. He cited the father's demand for the couple to enter into a post-nuptial agreement which included a term that prevented 'another man's daughter' from claiming his assets in the case of a divorce.
Pointer said the ex-wife manipulated the whole exercise by cancelling the post-nuptial agreement on the same day it was signed.
The lawyer also said that the ex-wife's demand for HK$1.5 million a year for food in Hong Kong, HK$249,000 a year for food in London and HK$600,000 a year for dining out was 'completely unsupportable'.
The hearing continues before Mr Justice John Saunders.