Billionaire Nina Wang's lover fights claims he forged will

 

Beijing

A master of feng shui appeared in court yesterday accused of trying to forge the will of the late property tycoon Nina Wang, who was once Asia's richest woman.

Tony Chan, 52, the former lover of the eccentric billionaire – known as "Little Sweetie" for her taste in school-girlish attire and pigtails – appeared at a magistrates' court in Hong Kong for a pre-trial hearing that has revived one of the region's longest-running and hardest-fought probate battles.

The fortune, held through Ms Wang's private Chinachem Group, is estimated at about HK$100bn (£8bn). Her death in 2007, aged 69, triggered a highly public legal battle between Mr Chan and Ms Wang's family, which Mr Chan lost. The married father of three, who appeared in court with his wife, was arrested a year ago for allegedly forging the will of Ms Wang between October 2006 and April 2007, and then presenting it as authentic between 2007 and 2010.

The court was told that he faces two charges – one of forging the will and a second of deception – Radio Television Hong Kong reported. Mr Chan, who carved out a career as an expert in the arts of feng shui – an ancient Chinese belief system which aims to harness spiritual energies in nature – maintains that Ms Wang was his lover. He insists they shared a passion for cooking and feng shui, but Ms Wang's family have described him as a charlatan.

Born in Shanghai, Ms Wang inherited most of her wealth from her husband, the Hong Kong industrialist Teddy Wang, who was kidnapped as he left the Hong Kong Jockey Club in 1990. His body was never found. It is believed Ms Wang used feng shui to try to find him.

Despite Ms Wang's wealth, she was famous for her thrift. However, she made three payments of HK$688m (£55m) in consultation fees to Mr Chan.

The case against Mr Chan has attracted greater attention since the arrival of a prominent British criminal barrister, David Perry, QC, who will act as government prosecutor. Mr Chan could be liable for HK$140m (£11m) for legal fees incurred by the Chinachem foundation if found guilty.

During yesterday's hearing, Mr Chan listened as lawyers outlined technical details of the case. No date has been set for the trial to begin. Preliminary proceedings will resume on Thursday.

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