US judge retains tycoon’s case

UNWILLING:: New Jersey judge said that more evidence needed to be accumulated before a ruling could be made on who would oversee Wang Yung-ching’s estate

BLOOMBERG

Sat, Aug 15, 2009 - Page 12

A New Jersey judge refused on Thursday to dismiss a lawsuit over who should administer the multibillion dollar estate of Formosa Plastics Group (FPG, 台塑集團) founder Wang Yung-ching (王永慶).

Wang was Taiwan’s second-richest man when he died at age 91 without a will in October in New Jersey. The eldest of his nine children, Winston Wong (王文洋), sued on May 13 in state court in Newark, New Jersey, arguing the case should be heard there because of his father’s extensive business holdings in the state.

Four of Wang’s children, led by his daughter Susan Wang (王瑞華), asked Superior Court Judge Walter Kaprowski to dismiss the case, saying their father had no assets in New Jersey and the matter should be decided in Taiwan. Kaprowski denied the bid and said the parties need to gather pretrial evidence to determine whether Wang owned assets and was a resident of New Jersey.

“It’s an issue that requires some discovery so that I can make a jurisdictional ruling as to whether this matter can proceed,” Kaprowski ruled at the hearing.

Wong claims the estate includes US$1.7 billion in assets in Taiwan, US$1 billion in a Credit Suisse Group AG account and US$7.5 billion in several offshore trusts and a US trust.

Kaprowski didn’t rule on Wong’s request to serve as administrator of the estate. An administrator would gather assets, determine liabilities, make distributions, help decide who the proper heirs are and weigh what US or Taiwanese law applies.

Wong claims his father’s ailing widow deserves half of the estate because she married him in 1935 and never divorced him. Wang Yung-ching, known as the “God of Management” in Taiwan, had all nine of his children with other women.

An attorney for the Susan Wang group, Lawrence Neher, argued that Wong’s attorney Michael Griffinger failed to establish that the late industrialist owned any of the Formosa companies based in New Jersey. He argued that on May 13, Wang Yung-ching’s estate filed a tax return in Taiwan that listed his three wives and nine children as heirs.

“The proofs are not here,” Neher said. “The witnesses are not here. It’s not New Jersey law. The heirs should work it out in Taiwan.”

Another son, Walter Wang (王文祥), claims the case should be decided in New Jersey, and that he should oversee the estate, according to Michael Dell, his attorney.

Dell also represents two of Wang Yung-ching’s three daughters and the woman who is the mother of both Walter Wang and Winston Wong.

Kaprowski will hold another hearing again on Sept. 11.

Wang Yung-ching died of cardiopulmonary arrest on Oct. 15 at his house in Short Hills, New Jersey, two days after arriving from Taiwan. He traveled to Short Hills “numerous times on a regular basis every year of the last 20-plus years of his life,” and lived there in the 1980s, the complaint said.

Wong alleges that his father “did not personally execute” any of the documents setting up US$7.5 billion in trusts.

They include Bermuda trusts overseen by children of Wang’s brother, including William Wong and Wilfred Wang, the complaint says. Another entity known as New Mighty Trust holds stock in Formosa Plastic’s US companies in Livingston, New Jersey, according to the complaint.