Socialite Annabelle Bond in HK$4m row for child support

Annabelle Bond's ex-fiancé and father of her five-year-old daughter sues her current lover in a high-profile tussle over a maintenance award

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 April, 2013, 12:25pm

A socialite famed for her mountaineering exploits is entangled in a legal tussle between her billionaire ex-fiancé and a wealthy new lover over what is thought to be the biggest child-support order issued in Hong Kong.

Annabelle Bond's ex-fiancé, Warren Lichtenstein - the father of her five-year-old daughter - is suing her current lover over the maintenance order totalling nearly HK$4 million a year.

That is the sum the US-based hedge fund manager was ordered by a Hong Kong court to pay to 43-year-old Bond, daughter of former HSBC chairman John Bond. She lives with their daughter in a rented house on The Peak.

According to a writ filed in New York against Bond's lover last week, the court ordered Lichtenstein to pay HK$200,000 a month in rent and another HK$121,667 a month in living expenses for the child.

On top of the rent and living expenses, according to the writ, the 47-year-old billionaire who heads the Steel Partners hedge fund is also required to pay for "school, tutoring, medical, travel and other substantial expenses".

Now Lichtenstein is challenging the award in a US writ seeking at least US$200,000 in damages from Bond's wealthy lover, Andrew Cader, who he claims is bankrolling the mother of his daughter and has given her "many millions of dollars in cash and gifts".

Bond attracted worldwide publicity for her mountain-climbing exploits. She set a record in 2005 for being the fastest woman to climb the world's seven highest peaks.

The high-profile child-support battle began when Lichtenstein and Bond, who grew up in Hong Kong, separated amicably in 2007, while she was pregnant with their daughter. Bond began proceedings against him in a UK court seeking a home for her and their daughter to live in but soon after moved with her daughter to Hong Kong, where her father remains a "very wealthy, powerful and prominent figure", according to the writ.

Cader, who lives in the US and is one of the owners of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team, took out a lease on a home on The Peak in July 2011 where she has lived with her daughter since. The order for child-support payments was subsequently decided by the Hong Kong courts.

In the writ filed in Manhattan, Lichtenstein's lawyer says: "This is one of the largest - if not the largest - child support order[s] ever issued by a Hong Kong court and is unprecedented."

In allegations expected to be strongly contested by Bond and Cader, the writ claims that Bond had told Lichtenstein and the Hong Kong courts that the money given to her and the rent paid for her were "merely loans from her lover that she was obliged to repay".

However, it alleges: "These representations are false. The cash gifts and lease payments from Mr Cader - who, on information and belief, has a net worth of hundreds of millions of dollars - were gifts to his long-time paramour."

The writ says: "The Hong Kong court has … relied on these representations as being true in establishing an interim award of support. These misrepresentations have caused Mr Lichtenstein to be required to pay inappropriately high child support."

The writ, which names only Cader and not Bond as a defendant, argued that the billionaire's former fiancée has "gone from one millionaire lover to another, spending millions of dollars of their money to support her lavish lifestyle, and then moved on to her next wealthy lover or lovers to support her and finance her litigation efforts".

A statement issued by Bond's Hong Kong lawyer, Sharon Ser of Withers, later said "the allegations made by Mr Lichtenstein in his US complaint … are utterly denied".

At her home on The Peak on Friday afternoon, Bond declined to comment on the proceedings. "I've been told not to say anything about it," she said.