Rice cooker tycoon's families fight it out in court
The two families of the late rice-cooker tycoon William Mong Man-wai appeared in High Court on Wednesday in a dispute over who should control US$142 million (HK$1.1 billion) of his fortune.
Over the last eight years before his death in 2010, Mong shifted the funds out of Shun Hing Holdings, one of his many companies, to other holdings, according to an application filed by two children of Wong’s first wife, Serena Yang Hsueh-chi, whom he divorced in 2002.
The two children – Cynthia Mong Sien-Yee and David Mong Tak-yeung – claim that while there was nothing illegal about the transfer of the funds, it is unfair to the Shun Hing’s shareholders not to have the funds returned.
On Wednesday, solicitor Douglas Hunsworth, speaking for Cynthia and David Mong’s firm Timmerton Company, said they were claiming the money on the basis that William Mong had held the money on trust for Shun Hing. The two children stand to gain if the funds are returned since Timmerton owns a large share of Shun Hing.
Opposing their application are William Mong’s second wife, Wong Pui-fan, and her daughter Perlie Mong Pui-yee. They stand to lose if the funds are returned to Shun Hing because it would come out of their legacy.
Speaking for them, Dennis Chang SC, noted that the court application did not accuse William Mong of dishonest or fraudulent acts. Yet their application for a summary judgment, without trial, implied that such misconduct did occur, he said.
Given the high-profile nature of the case and the close media attention, Chang said, “it is really outrageous for the application to have taken place,” adding that the court had no jurisdiction to allow an application for a summary judgment.
Mr Justice Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor reserved judgment on Wednesday.
Lawyers for Wong Pui-fan and her daughter told the court last month that William Mong’s first wife, Yang, was trying to destroy their entitlement under Mong’s will “through the control of Shun Hing”.
The court earlier als heard that Mong had made “generous provision” for Wong and her daughter and had named them as beneficiaries under another trust.
In April, four Shun Hing subsidiaries and a related firm sued Mong’s estate for about HK$1.9 billion. Mong set up Shun Hing Hong in 1953 and used his father’s business links with Panasonic to import Japanese goods. Over the next 50 years he sold 10 million rice cookers.