Stephen Chiau’s ex-girlfriend sues him for HK$80m
For years, prominent comedian, actor and director Stephen Chiau Sing-chi benefited from the financial skills and advice of his then-girlfriend, Alice Yu Man-fung. In return, he paid her a salary plus millions of dollars in commissions.
Now she is suing him, claiming an HK$80 million commission on the “expected” sale price of a luxury house on The Peak – which has yet to be sold.
In a writ filed with the High Court on Monday, Yu said Chiau would not have been able to get into the highly lucrative deal – to redevelop the Skyhigh development on the Peak – without her assistance.
The claim involves one of four houses at 10 Pollock’s Path, The Peak, a joint venture by Chiau and Ryoden Development. The four luxurious houses have been redeveloped and three of them have been resold. The third dwelling, owned by Ryoden, went for a record HK$800 million in May last year.
The fourth house, owned by Chiau, has yet to be sold. But Yu is suing for a 10 per cent commission on the expectation that it will fetch the same eye-watering price of HK$800 million.
Yu claims she introduced Chiau to the high-flying deal when she learned from market sources, in 2004, that the distressed assets arm of Citibank would auction the property at 10 Pollock’s Path.
Yu says her help was instrumental in the Skyhigh project, because without her social network power to bring in Ryoden as an investor, Chiau would not have enough money to close the deal.
She says she received from Chiau HK$14.9 million in commissions for the sale of two houses at the development. Filings with the land registry showed the two houses were sold for HK$350 million and HK$300 million in September 2009.
Yu started urging Chiau to pay her HK$80 million commission on the fourth house, after Ryoden’s windfall HK$800 million sale.
In July last year, Chiau suggested that he would sell the house in four years, and he would pay the commission over the intervening period, according to the writ. In March, it says, Chiau sent her a cheque for HK$10 million plus a letter saying the HK$10 million was a “gratuitous payment”, denying that he owed to her any commission.
According to the court paper, Yu signed a written agreement with Chiau in 2002 to become his personal financial consultant, paying her a salary of between HK$20,000 and HK$59,000 a month. They made an oral agreement that Chiau would pay Yu 10 per cent after-tax profits on successful investments as commission.