We need more time, Hong Kong foundation argues in latest legal battle with tycoon’s children

Court grants extension in case with ‘complicated and complex’ estate claims

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2016, 4:31pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2016, 6:07pm

The foundation administering the estate of late tycoon Henry Fok Ying-tung told a Hong Kong court of its latest legal wrangle involving the children of the philanthropist and their fight to acquire a stake in a mainland development project.

Fok Ying Tung Foundation Limited, which was named as a defendant in three claims filed separately by Benjamin Fok Chun-yue and his two sisters, told the High Court in a pretrial hearing yesterday that it was difficult for the organisation to obtain relevant documents relating to dealings that spanned a two-decade period with various parties.

“They are complicated and complex claims,” the foundation said, referring to the efforts of the Fok siblings to seek a share in a development project in Nansha district in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, valued at about 30 billion yuan, or HK$35 billion.

The fact certain governors on the board of the foundationwere involved in the legal action and had potential conflicts of interest also complicated the matter, it added.

As a result, it took three months for the foundation to sort out how it should deal with the legal claims and give instructions to lawyers.

Master Michael Wong Yat-ming yesterday gave the foundation an extension until October 18 to prepare its case.

Benjamin Fok filed a petition in January to seek to assert his rights in the Nansha project. Later that month, his siblings Patricia Fok Lai-ping and Nora Fok Lai-lor filed separate writs.

The Fok heirs are challenging a settlement reached in 2012.

Benjamin Fok and the sisters – all born to Fok and his first wife – argued that children from their father’s first family were inappropriately excluded from an option to acquire a share of the project.

Patricia Fok said in her writ petition that her brothers, Ian Fok Chun-wan and Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, failed to make full and frank disclosure of all relevant information pertaining to her rights.

Benjamin Fok claimed Ian Fok, who is his elder brother and shares the same mother, had failed to reveal an option to buy back a 25 per cent stake in the project, and wanted the court to remove him as administrator ofthe estate.