Counsel for father-in-law tells court that judges were right to rule will a forgery
Anyone who believed billionaire Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum did not forge a will that left her the entire Chinachem empire was ignoring the facts, counsel for her father-in-law said yesterday.
'One has to suspend credulity if one is to see innocence on the side of [Mrs Wang],' said Neville Thomas QC, lead counsel for 93-year-old Wang Din-shin, who was listed as the sole beneficiary of a 1968 will executed by Mrs Wang's late husband, Teh-huei. 'One must shut one's eyes to so many things that lie in the evidence.'
Mrs Wang is seeking to overturn a Court of Appeal finding that a lower court was right to conclude that the signatures on 1990 documents purporting to leave her the company on her husband's death were forged, and that those documents did not constitute a will.
Last week Mrs Wang's counsel argued the judges in the lower courts had mistakenly applied a higher standard of proof than was necessary to her claim that her husband had, in the presence of only the couple's butler, executed a new will leaving everything to her.
But Mr Thomas said it was established practice for civil courts, when confronted by allegations of serious criminal conduct, to impose a more stringent standard of proof.
'When an allegation of fraud is made ... [a judge] cannot be satisfied with the normal balance of probabilities - he must be very sure,' he said. 'If those [lower court] judges tell you that they recognised that they have to be very sure - which they did - then one has to be satisfied that they were very sure' when they came to their conclusion of forgery, he said.
Additionally, he asked why one of the richest men in the world, who had written a number of wills before and had them witnessed by solicitors, would suddenly decide to write a completely new will in such a casual manner.
The simple answer to that, Mr Thomas said, was that he did not.
Mrs Wang's claims that her husband had, about one month before he was kidnapped and never seen again, handed her sealed envelopes allegedly containing the will and that she had never seen the contents until they were opened in September 1999, were false.
Mr Thomas said that in various court hearings leading up to the declaring of Teddy Wang's death on September 22, 1999, Mrs Wang had gone from not knowing anything about the contents of the envelopes, to believing they contained a new will and to believing the new will left everything to her.
'If that be true ... there must have been psychic powers at work,' Mr Thomas said. 'If a husband tells a wife 'here is an envelope, it contains my will' ... it is not unnatural that she should expect to benefit from it. But there would be no way of knowing that every cent would go to her.'
With such a massive leap in her understanding of what was inside the envelopes, it was not surprising the lower courts had found she probably had something to do with forging the alleged will.
'It is exactly the sort of lie that calls into question all other arguments that have been made by that person,' Mr Thomas said.
The hearing continues in the High Court building tomorrow.