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Nan Fung

Nan Fung founder Chen Din-hwa died of natural causes, inquest rules

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 May, 2013, 5:10am

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The late founder of property developer Nan Fung Group died of dementia and prostate cancer last year, the Coroner's Court ruled yesterday.

Chen Din-hwa, 89, died of natural causes, a jury concluded unanimously after a half-day hearing before Coroner Michael Chan Pik-kiu.

The inquest was required because Chen was under a guardianship order from the Social Welfare Department when he died on June 17.

His family is in dispute over his multibillion-dollar estate.

Chen was suffering from final-stage prostate cancer when he was admitted to the private Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital in Happy Valley in January last year. The cancer had spread to other parts of his body, including the lymph nodes, liver and lungs, his doctor, neurologist Dr Bell Tse Sing-sang, testified.

Chen was also suffering from Alzheimer's disease, which he was diagnosed with in 1995. He could not swallow food and had to use a feeding tube.

Forensic pathologist Dr Tso Chi-bun testified that Chen died of dementia and prostate cancer.

Chen's guardianship order was issued in July 2010. Such orders can be applied for people who are mentally incapable of making their own decisions about their personal affairs, financial matters or medical and dental treatments.

The appointed guardian can be either a family member or friend, or the director of social welfare. In Chen's case, his guardian was the director.

In December 2010, Chen's former wife Yang Foo-oi sued younger daughter Vivien Chen Wai-wai, who took control of Nan Fung following the Alzheimer's diagnosis in 2009. Yang alleged she had been misled into transferring assets and sued over properties worth "substantially" more than HK$1.5 billion, recent court papers revealed.

Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said a dispute over an estate might be affected if the deceased had died of unnatural causes.