Lawyer predicts continuing tussle over money for Nina Wang's in-laws

The family of Nina Wang's husband is in a position to pursue financial support if the Chinachem foundation is found lacking, a lawyer says

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 February, 2013, 4:14am

A tug of war between siblings of late billionaire Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum and her husband's family is likely to continue over how the in-laws will be financially cared for, as required in her will.

Under the will, Nina Wang, who died in 2007, also expressed her wish to form a "managing organisation" formed by prominent leaders to oversee the operation of the Chinachem Charitable Foundation, which she set up with her late husband in 1988.

Tension between the two families will probably arise from a High Court ruling yesterday that the foundation holds discretionary power to grant monetary support to Teddy Wang Teh-huei's family instead of being obliged to provide for them.

Since Nina Wang's three siblings are directors of the foundation, both families must come to terms on how such support would be given, or else more lawsuits may follow, a lawyer says.

"If [Teddy] Wang's family members are unhappy with the foundation's exercise of the discretion, they can take the matter to court," solicitor Billy Ma Wah-yan said. "They can ask for a court direction on how the foundation should provide for them."

According to the will, the foundation, apart from charitable work, was to provide for Nina Wang's parents-in-law, but both died in 2010. It should pay for the living and medical expenses of Teddy Wang's sister, Wang Teh-hwa, and look after her children. If necessary, it should look after his three other siblings and pay for their children's education.

To determine whether the foundation's directors exercised its discretion properly, Ma said, it was important to refer to how Nina Wang supported her in-laws before she died.

Mr Justice Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor handed down his ruling yesterday on the proper reading of the will of Nina Wang, who left behind a HK$83 billion estate, the bulk of which came from the legacy of her legally dead husband.

The case was prompted by a request in May from the Secretary for Justice for the courts to determine how the will should be interpreted.

Under the will, the foundation is to set up a Chinese Prize that resembles the Nobel Prize.

Nina Wang also wanted to form a managing organisation for the foundation, comprising the UN secretary general, Chinese premier and Hong Kong's chief executive. "Nina evinced a clear intention that she would not simply leave the foundation to its directors or governors after her death," Poon wrote.

"She was plainly concerned if the foundation, under the stewardship of its directors and governors alone, would be competent enough to act on its own."

On the difficulty of forming an external supervisory body comprising the three eminent figures, he wrote: "She must have been aware that in reality it might not be possible that all of the three eminent office-holders would be able and willing to act as such."

As a result, the judge ruled it was Nina Wang's intention for the foundation to perform charitable work, whether or not the organisation could be created.

Poon also said that according to the will, the foundation's directors should manage its business and capital, safeguard and expand the business of the Chinachem Group and decide how much of the profits made by the Chinachem Group should be used for the foundation's charity purposes.

The foundation had the discretionary power to "provide care and assistance to staff of Chinachem Group and their children" to encourage them to continue studying and enhancing their own value, the court ruled.

Before yesterday's judgment, people closely related to Nina Wang and her in-laws had criticised the management of the foundation.

Her godson, Anthony Quintin Cheung, said her siblings had not run the body in line with her instructions.

He said its operations were not transparent and it did not care for Teddy Wang's family.