The billionaire divorce case that gripped the city

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 December, 2011, 12:00am


Florence Tsang Chiu-wing is now the city's newest billionaire, thanks to a court judgment that awarded her HK$1.2 billion.

Tsang, who was beaming outside the High Court after the judgment, had claimed HK$5.5 billion in a lawsuit seeking ancillary relief following her divorce in 2008 from Samathur Li Kin-kan, a son of billionaire property tycoon Samuel Lee Tak-yee.

The case attracted extensive media coverage and gave the public a rare glimpse into the extravagant lifestyles of the seriously rich.

The Court of First Instance heard that Li lavished more than HK$100 million a year on himself. At one point he owned a Boeing business jet, two yachts, 28 cars and millions of dollars worth of wine, among other items, the court was told.

Lee - also known as Samuel Tak Lee - is the boss of Prudential Enterprise, which owns the landmark Prudential Hotel in Jordan.

As part of the judgment, the court referred the case to the Director of Public Prosecution for criminal investigation after it was found that the father and son might have committed forgery and perjury during more than 20 days of hearings filled with sensational evidence and accusations among the three parties.

The root of the marriage's breakdown was the wife's pregnancy. The court heard that the couple's marriage turned sour after the wife turned down his ultimatum for an abortion. This was followed by the discovery of his affair with another woman, leading to the end of their eight-year marriage in 2008.

Li told the court he had been 'tricked' by his wife because she did not tell him it was a 'risky time' to have sex. Since the birth of his daughter three years ago, Li said he had only seen her twice and did not want to be involved in her life.

Li's father had earlier initiated a lawsuit against his former daughter-in-law, alleging fraud for cancelling a post-nuptial agreement. Lee lost the case in England and mounted another legal action in Hong Kong.

The three settled the case in February, with the father and son admitting liability for 'conspiracy to injure'.

The court heard that after Li graduated from university, the father gave him 3.5 billion yen to start a property business in Japan. Under an agreement between the two, the father had the right to acquire shares of the company. The right was exercised in 2009.

Li said in court that he had no choice but agreed to conspire with his father to stop his ex-wife getting her hands on the money

'My father is the only one looking after me,' he said in court. 'If I pick a fight with him, I would ... be on the street. I have no other choice, so to speak.'

The father said all along the son's assets were a retrievable gift from him. 'In a word, everything is mine. From top to bottom, through life's journey until death, and throughout all the family changes and internal strife,' Lee told the court.