Family unity lost in battle over billions

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 December, 2011, 12:00am


A deceased plastics tycoon's plea for family unity sounded incongruous as two factions of his family squared off in a fight over his multibillion-dollar fortune in Hong Kong's High Court yesterday.

Winston Wong Wen-young - the eldest son of the late Taiwanese tycoon Wang Yung-ching - is seeking to recover US$4 billion that he claims was illicitly taken from his father by members of Wang's third family and sent to Hong Kong firms. Wong belongs to Wang's second family.

The lost fortune totals US$17 billion, Wong said, adding that he plans to fight in various jurisdictions to regain control of the entire sum.

Wang, the founder of Formosa Plastics Group (FPG), died in the United States in October 2008 at the age of 91 without leaving a will.

Wong said the third family's 'dishonest' conduct and exclusion of the second family flew in the face of their father's lifelong conviction that the family should stand united. Wang set up a charity trust in 2002, and set out in a document the 'crucial principles' that should govern its activities. The document - signed by members of both factions - said the family should foster 'a sense of unity' and avoid conflict over his fortune.

Wang's document warned 'wealth does not outlast three generations'. It went on to say, 'any wealth that is passed on from the ancestors to the next generation ... will evaporate in the blink of an eye, with no exception'.

Wong's claim accuses Wang's third family of being involved in a 20-year scheme to 'wrongly siphon off' Wang's assets.

Members of the third family controlled 'secretive' companies - including some in Hong Kong - to wrest control of Wang's assets 'to the exclusion of [the] second family [including Wong]', the filings claim.

Wong filed his High Court claim on Monday, and the case was heard in court yesterday.

Wong claims that his three half sisters - Susan, Sandy and Diana Wang, together with Hung Wen-hsiung, Wang's long time personal asset manager - siphoned off the fortune.

Wong also alleges that Susan Wang and other third family members misled Taiwanese authorities by hiding information including funding from their father and the existence of offshore trust entities.

Wong is asking the court to appoint him the representative and administrator of the estate, to order the return of assets from the third family and to bar the defendants from dealing with the assets.