An elderly welfare claimant who left a $180 million fortune behind when he died became rich by being mean, a court heard yesterday. At a probate hearing to decide who inherits Choi Ching-man's estate, Elsa Mok Han-won, 62, who claims she was Choi's common-law wife for 10 years, said Choi admitted meanness was the reason he became rich. 'He was cautious about money . . . he said one wouldn't become rich without being mean to others,' she said. She told the Court of First Instance how Choi loaned her $35,000 and made her pay back the full amount with interest. Ms Mok, who claims she had lived with Choi since 1986, also told the court Choi complained he had to sleep on a sofa in a Wan Chai flat he shared with a friend. The court had heard that despite having substantial bank deposits, shares and a property in Wan Chai, Choi claimed tens of thousands of dollars in public assistance from the Social Welfare Department in his final years. The estate of Choi, who died aged 72 in August 1996, is being contested by Ms Mok and Cai Guoxiang, who claims to be Choi's sole surviving brother. Considering herself Choi's wife, Ms Mok kept asking him to leave a will stating her right to his estate, the court heard. But it was not until May 24, 1996, that Choi acceded to her request, she claimed, saying he asked her to put down what she wanted on a bank slip and signed it. But Edward Chan SC, for Cai, who lives on the mainland, accused Ms Mok of fabricating her story and forging the will after Choi's death. The case continues before Mr Justice David Yam Yee-kwan today.