Court hears family feud over US$2.9-billion estate of Chinese tycoon who died in France helicopter crash

Assets estimated to be worth 20 billion yuan are being fought over by late businessman’s widow and father

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 April, 2017, 3:46pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 April, 2017, 4:04pm

The trial of a family feud over the billion-dollar fortune of Hong Kong-based tycoon Kok Lam, who died three years ago in a helicopter crash, has started in Yunnan.

At stake are assets estimated to be worth 20 billion yuan (US$2.9 billion), which are being fought over by Kok’s widow Lau Sheung-wan – also known as Liu Xiangyun – and Kok’s father, who is more than 90-years-old, the Chuncheng Evening News reported.

The Kunming Intermediate People’s Court heard the first of several court cases over the division of the family assets on Tuesday, with lawsuits also filed in Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.

Lau reportedly suggested various ways to distribute the assets, but the older Kok rejected them all.

According to the elder Kok, there were already multiple conflicts between him and the widow over obtaining the relevant death certificates, which were eventually settled after going to court.

The late Kok was the former head of Brilliant Group, a Chinese conglomerate with investments across the real estate, tourism, retail, hotel and tea industries. Founded in 1995, the company helped pave the way for the first business district in Kunming.

Crash tycoon Kok Lam’s wife behind much of Brilliant Group’s success

Kok died in a helicopter crash days before Christmas 2014, along with his 12-year-old son Kok Shun-yu, his interpreter and financial adviser Peng Wang, and French entrepreneur James Gregoire, who was the pilot of the flight.

The wreckage was found near the Dordogne River in southwest France, hours after Kok Lam and his wife purchased French winery Château de La Rivière from Gregoire, who bought it after its previous owner also died in a plane crash.

Body found near site of Chinese tycoon Kok Lam's Bordeaux chopper crash

Lau, who was reportedly afraid of helicopters, decided at the last minute not to fly in the aircraft.