Peter Chan

Long string of debts claim Chan's HK$730m stash

His fortune's leaving him as quickly as it came, with the taxman and creditors hot on his heels

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 May, 2015, 5:00pm

In May last year, Peter Chan Chun-chuen called himself "very poor" when he had HK$730 million left of a fortune once estimated at HK$2.7 billion.

Today, he has more reason to cry poor - he may end up handing over the dwindling remains of his stash just to settle legal bills and pay outstanding tax.

If Chan were indeed a eunuch of the late tycoon Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum , as her siblings described him, he was probably one of the most successful.

In the five years after he met the billionaire in 1992, he received at least HK$721 million.

His good fortune continued between 2005 and 2006, when Wang gave him three payments of HK$688 million each - one delivered in cash by truck.

In the same period, Chan bought 17 luxury properties in the Mid-Levels, Repulse Bay, Sai Kung and Shouson Hill. These included a house at Middle Gap Road that he bought for HK$75 million in 1994; a property at Beach Road, Repulse Bay, bought for HK$105 million in 1994, and a property at Mount Kellett Road near Pok Fu Lam, bought for HK$134 million in 1996.

But the nouveau riche fung shui consultant saw his money quickly slip out of his hands.

A big spender, he bought two private jets to fulfil a childhood dream. He also made a series of bad investments.

But what really battered Chan's finances was his botched attempt to claim Wang's HK$83 billion fortune - which he claimed was left to him out of love under a will that landed him in court on forgery charges. He ran up legal bills of as much as HK$300 million - which he is still struggling to pay - defending himself against the charges.

A lawyer familiar with the proceedings said Chan was ordered to pay more than HK$110 million in legal costs to the Chinachem Charitable Foundation, which the court ruled was the legitimate trustee of Wang's fortune.

He has paid Chinachem HK$65 million, but still owes it HK$50 million. He is also liable to pay Wang's estate administrators' fees estimated at $HK20 million. To help fund his probate battle, in 2009, Chan sold a house on The Peak for an estimated HK$240 million and a private jet that he had in 2006 bought for US$30 million.

In a document filed with the High Court in May last year, he disclosed he had assets worth about HK$730 million. "I am very poor. I have only some HK$700 million left," he lamented then.

In October, Chan knocked down his house at Bowen Road, Mid-Levels, and sold the land for HK$380 million, from which he paid Chinachem the HK$65 million part payment.

He also had to sell 10 million shares in RCG - a Hong Kong-listed company in which he invested heavily - for HK$50 million in 2010. In May, he cashed in his Wealthy Heights flat at MacDonnell Road for HK$34.8 million.

The list of Chan's debts goes on. He still owes HK$341 million in taxes. In April, the District Court ordered him to pay the Inland Revenue Department outstanding profits tax for money he received from Wang for fung shui services, mainly relating to the three HK$688 million payments, together with unpaid taxes on 23 properties.

He also faces a claim by two companies under Wang's Chinachem Group to return the three payments totalling HK$2.06 billion, which the companies say he was given solely for fung shui purposes, not to pocket.

The HK$2.06 billion claim, if successful, would surely bankrupt him as, assuming Chan is still worth HK$730 million, he will have just HK$389 million left after settling his tax liabilities.