Charity loses courtroom bid for Nina Wang's $14 billion fortune

Charity loses courtroom bid for Nina Wang's $14 billion fortune

Hong Kong's highest court has ruled that a charity entrusted with the late property tycoon Nina Wang's multibillion-dollar estate will have to follow her will to the letter.

The Chinachem Charitable Foundation saw its final attempt to exercise greater control over Wang's HK$82 billion (S$14 billion) fortune quashed by the Court of Final Appeal on Monday.

The decision comes five years after a court ruled that the fortune was left to the charity, rather than to a self-proclaimed feng shui master now serving a 12-year prison sentence for faking Wang's will.

The foundation can act only as a trustee of Wang's will, rather than as a beneficiary that is allowed to do as it pleases with the Chinachem business empire and its 200 companies.

However, further legal haggling is still expected.

Wang's will included support for her family and educational benefits for the children of company employees, on which the foundation had spent HK$3.45 million in setting up scholarships as of 2012.

But there has been no progress on Wang's request for an international Chinese prize on par with the Nobel Prize. Neither has there been any headway on a supervisory committee comprising figures from the United Nations and the central and Hong Kong governments to oversee the foundation's work. Progress stalled after invitations to the three bodies went unanswered.

"The Chinese prize is no doubt intended to bring further renown to the People's Republic of China," Justice Ma wrote, adding that Wang could not have intended the prize to be limited to Chinese cultural activity.

"Nina probably had in mind that the prize would be administered and its award ceremonies held in Beijing (or possibly Hong Kong)," Ma wrote.

Lawyer Patrick Hamlin said the Department of Justice will produce a draft plan on the supervisory organisation and on how Wang's prize will work.

Lawyers from the foundation will be consulted and an agreed draft submitted to the High Court for approval.

But progress appears to be months away, with the drafting expected to take some time as the details are hammered out and names for the organisation submitted.

 

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