A Hong Kong fortune teller fighting to overturn a court ruling that quashed his claim to the huge estate of late property tycoon Nina Wang was driven by greed, a court heard Wednesday.
A lawyer for the tycoon’s charity, which last year won a high-profile battle for her estimated $13 billion fortune, described Tony Chan’s bid for Wang’s money as one where “greed knows no bounds”.
The case grabbed headlines for months as Chan battled the eccentric billionaire’s charity, now run by her siblings, for the huge real estate fortune that once saw the pigtailed Wang dubbed the richest woman in Asia.
Famous for her outlandish dress and thrifty nature, Wang died of cancer in April 2007 at the age of 69, triggering a bitter feud between Chan and the charity, with both claiming her estate.
Last February, High Court Judge Johnson Lam ruled that a will in Chan’s possession was a forgery, siding with the Chinachem Charitable Foundation’s claim to the estate based on another will.
This week, Chan’s lawyer said Judge Lam misconstrued the evidence and “disapproved” of the long-time relationship between Wang and the married Chan.
Those claims are “unfounded, unfair and baseless”, Chinachem lawyer Denis Chang said Wednesday.
Chang dismissed suggestions that Wang “would have given all her fortune to someone else’s husband”, adding that it “would be repudiating the legacy of (Wang’s late husband) Teddy and her publicly avowed charitable intentions.”
“Greed knows no bounds,” he added.
The lawyer disputed earlier claims that it would have been difficult for Chan to find a calligrapher skilled enough to forge Wang’s will.
Chan had a career advising clients including Wang on feng shui, an ancient Chinese belief system based on harnessing natural and spiritual energies.
Giving advice to help find Wang’s kidnapped husband and cure her cancer was the basis of the pair’s relationship, Chang said, explaining why Chan had some of the tycoon’s personal items, including her famous pigtails.
“This is very much a feng shui-related relationship,” he added.
Shortly after the ruling, Hong Kong police arrested Chan on suspicion of forging the will, later releasing him on bail of HK$5 million ($640,000).
The case gripped the former British colony and generated blanket media coverage, with Chan often cast as a charlatan who duped the billionaire.
Wang’s husband Teddy, who started the Chinachem Group property empire, was abducted in 1990 and declared legally dead in 1999. His body has never been found.
His disappearance kicked off a heated legal battle between Wang and her father-in-law for control of the Chinachem Group. She eventually won the case just two years before her own death in 2007.