Chan’s appeal blames judge for errors
Fung shui master’s lawyers vigorously attack verdict in Nina Wang case
20 March 2010
The probate judge did not administer justice when he struck down the claim of fung shui master Tony Chan Chun-chuen for the multibillion-dollar fortune of tycoon Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum, Chan’s lawyers said in an appeal yesterday.
The appeal paper, filed in the High Court, said Mr. Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon failed to see how deeply Wang had loved Chan. It also claimed the judge used the wrong handwriting analysis to conclude the will Chan presented was forged and to find him responsible for it.
The appeal stemmed from a judgment Lam made on February 2 that the will, which Chan claimed Wang had made on October 16, 2006, leaving him her entire estate out of love, was forged. Lam also upheld a will Wang made in 2002, in which she left everything to her Chinachem Charitable Foundation.
A day after the judgment, the police commercial crime bureau arrested Chan on suspicion of forging the will and he was released on HK$5 million bail until mid-June.
In yesterday’s 46-page document, Chan’s lawyers vigorously attacked the verdict, which they said lacked cogency. The lawyers said Lam had wrongly accepted the opinion of handwriting expert, Robert Radley, who testified for the foundation that at least two signatures on the will could have been skilful forgeries. They also contended that there was no conclusive evidence to say Chan was responsible for forging the will.
Chan’s lawyers said the judge had wrongly found Chan was involved in the preparation of the 2006 will by assuming Wang was too weak to have done it herself at the time, without evidence to support the claim.
They also said the judge could not have concluded Chan forged the will, because Wang could have easily sought help from others.
“If [Chan] had been involved in the preparation of such a document, why was the document drafted in English, a language at which [Chan] was not skilled?” the lawyers said in the paper.
They also said that if Chan had helped forge the will, he would not have risked allowing Wang to show it to the two attesting witnesses – Winfield Wong Wing-cheung, a solicitor, and Ng Shung-mo, a senior Chinachem manager – who are experienced, intelligent professionals.
It was also argued that the judge had failed to appreciate that Wang’s love for Chan could have justified the 2006 will.
If Wang still intended to leave her estate to the charitable foundation, she would not have made substantial donations shortly before she died in April 2007, the paper said.
The lawyers also argued that Wang had been trying to groom Chan so that he could inherit her Chinachem empire. They said the HK$2 billion she gave to Chan was to “set up [Chan] as a man of substantial means and status and thereby suitable to run the Chinachem empire following her death”. Apart from consulting Chan on business matters and taking him with her on business trips, the lawyers said Wang had also made substantial investments in RCG, the company Chan founded.
Yesterday, the foundation’s solicitor, Keith Ho Man-kei, said it would study the appeal grounds and file a reply within 21 days in line with court procedures.
He said the foundation would apply for Chan to pay a security to cover the legal costs of the foundation’s team on appeal.