February 2, 2010

HONG KONG: Feng shui master denied Nina Wang fortune in Hong Kong

. LONDON, England / BBC News / February 2, 2010 A court in Hong Kong has thrown out a feng shui master's claim to the multi-billion dollar estate of Asia's richest woman, Nina Wang. Tony Chan, who said he was Nina Wang's lover, had argued she left him her fortune in a 2006 will. Nina Wang was renowned for her short skirts and pigtails even in her old age. This photo was taken in Beijing in 2001. But a high court judge said the will was a fake and a 2002 will was valid which left the estate to a charitable trust run by Wang's family. Nina Wang's Chinachem was worth $4.2bn (£2.1bn) when she died in 2007. The fortune had been part of an earlier dispute with her father-in-law. Kidnapping High Court Judge Lam Man-hon ruled: "The court finds that the 2006 will was not signed by Nina." The competing 2002 document left the estate to the Chinachem Charitable Foundation, which was set up by Wang and her husband and is run by members of her family. "The 2002 will truly reflected the long-held intention on the part of Nina to leave her estate to charity," the ruling said. The Chinachem Charitable Foundation's lawyer, Keith Ho, told reporters outside the High Court that the foundation was "very happy with the result". "The main point is that the judge accepted the evidence from us that some signatures in the 2006 will are forgeries," he said. Mr Ho said the foundation would continue to "carry out its charitable purpose". Mr Chan's lawyer said his client was "extremely disappointed" by the judgment. "But he appreciates how difficult this sort of trial is to judge and that there has to be a judgment," said Jonathan Midgley. He said Mr Chan's position remained "the same as it has always been - namely that the will in question was given to him by Nina and accordingly it is inconceivable that that will is a forgery". Mr Midgley said Mr Chan would appeal against the ruling. Frugal life By the time Nina Wang died of cancer in 2007, she had created a huge business empire - a conglomerate of high-rise towers and companies around the world. She wore miniskirts and her hair in pigtails into old age and was reputedly very frugal, despite her wealth, says the BBC's Annemarie Evans in Hong Kong. Her life was marked by the 1990 kidnap and disappearance of her husband, Teddy Wang Teh-huei. Nina Wang paid half the HK$60m (US$7.7m) ransom for him early on, before proof of life had been made and, unusually, the money and most of the kidnappers were found, but never the body of Teddy Wang. When he never came back she refused to accept his death and reportedly spoke of wanting to join him. Teddy's father later claimed his son's fortune as his own, alleging that Teddy had been upset at an alleged affair of Nina's. It was the father who pressed for Teddy to be declared legally dead nine years later, prompting Nina to produce the hand-written will showing the fortune was hers. A court ruled it was a forgery in 2002 but a higher court reversed that ruling in 2005, and Nina Wang inherited the estate. [rc] © BBC MMX