Tue, Jun 29, 2004 - Page 5 News List

Rich Hong Kong woman loses appeal in estate case

HONG KONG , AP

Hong Kong's richest woman lost the latest round in the fight over her late husband's fortune when an appellate court ruled 2-1 yesterday that the will she presented was a fake.

A trial judge had previously found that Nina Wang, chairwoman of the property giant Chinachem, had produced a bogus will in court and that she had probably forged it herself.

Wang's husband, Teddy Wang, was abducted 14 years ago and was never seen again, setting off an estate battle.

The trial judge awarded Teddy Wang's estate to the tycoon's father, Wang Din-shin. Nina Wang contested her loss in the trial court, but the Court of Appeal went against her yesterday.

Two judges, Wally Yeung and Yuen Ka-ning, agreed that the signatures of Teddy Wang had been forged on the will Nina Wang presented to the court. They upheld the ruling giving the estate, valued at more than 1 billion Hong Kong dollars (US$130 million), to her estranged father-in-law.

"No reasonable tribunal could be satisfied that Wang had duly executed the 1990 documents," Yeung wrote.

Judge Wally Waung dissented, saying the lower court's judgment "was wrongly based on an unpleaded case of fraud," and that he would have ordered a retrial.

Although the trial court had ruled that Nina Wang "probably" forged the will, the judges agreed this had not been proven.

Nina Wang was arrested in December 2002 for suspected forgery and released on a bond of HK$5 million (US$640,000). The case is still under investigation.

Nina Wang's lawyer, Brian Gilchrist, said her legal team would have to study the ruling before deciding whether to appeal again.

The father-in-law said his version of the will, naming him as sole beneficiary, was written in 1968 after Teddy Wang accused his wife of adultery. The father-in-law presented pictures in court that allegedly showed Nina Wang with her lover. Nina presented a will dated shortly before her husband's disappearance.

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