The forgery trial of the fung shui guru-turned-Christian Peter Chan Chun-chuen began yesterday but the judge ordered some of the proceedings kept under wraps.
Chan appeared in the Court of First Instance accused of forging a will he claimed to be from late Chinachem chairwoman Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum in order to claim her multibillion fortune.
Chan, 52, who changed his name from Tony after a recent conversion to Christianity, is charged with forgery and using a false instrument.
In the trial, which is set to last 60 days, the court will deal first with legal arguments raised by defence counsel Andrew Kan and Anita Wong. The substantive trial before jury will start on May 22. There was no jury yesterday.
Before the trial began, Mr Justice Andrew Macrae barred reporting of the legal arguments, but the public and the press were not excluded. The charges relate to a purported will produced during the legal battle over Wang's estimated HK$80 billion estate, which eventually went to the Chinachem Charitable Foundation.
Wang was Asia's richest woman when she died of cancer in April 2007 at the age of 69. Chan, who claims to have been Wang's lover, was accompanied at the hearing by his wife Tam Miu-ching, his daughter Polly Lon Pui-chun and his younger brother Ricky Chan Chun-kwok.
Chan was released on bail. His brother had previously provided a surety of HK$20 million as part of his bail conditions and there is also a HK$20 million cash bond.
Peter Chan must report to a police station twice a week and cannot leave Hong Kong.
The Department of Justice was represented yesterday by senior British barrister David Perry QC and senior assistant director of public prosecutions Anna Lai Yuen-kee.
Parties will return to court on May 3 to continue with the legal arguments.