Fortune teller heads to court over Little Sweetie's £6bn estate

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The Independent Online

Hong Kong is gearing up for the courtroom battle of the year, when a judge will decide whether the late Nina Wang's £6bn estate should go to her fortune teller or her family.

Wang, who died in April, aged 69, was one of Hong Kong's most colourful characters. She was nicknamed "Little Sweetie" for her trademark braided pigtails, bobby socks and mini-skirts. Tony Chan, a feng shui enthusiast and wealthy businessman, says Wang – who was once Asia's richest woman – left her property fortune to him in her last will, drafted in 2006 as she was dying of cancer.

The Chinachem Charitable Foundation, run by her family, lays claim to an earlier will from 2002. The two sides could not reach an out-of-court settlement. "The matter will have to resolved in the normal way by the court," said Mr Chan's lawyer, Jonathan Midgley.

The courtroom battle shows how, even after her death, Nina Wang is keeping Hong Kong's barristers busy. She spent much of her declining years in the law courts fighting with her father-in-law over the legacy of her husband, Teddy. The childhood sweethearts from Shanghai had no children.

Teddy Wang disappeared in 1990, after he was kidnapped while leaving the Hong Kong Jockey Club. His father, Wang Din-shin, campaigned to have his son declared dead so that the estate could be settled. In 1999, he succeeded in having the death legally confirmed, and he launched a civil suit to claim his inheritance.

The matter was complicated by the fact that there were two, possibly three, wills. In one will, from 1968, Teddy left his father everything. His father said this will was written after Nina Wang's infidelity. Furious at this, he tore up an earlier 1960 will which split his fortune between his wife and his father. Nina Wang won the eight-year legal battle in 2005, securing full control of the estate and of Hong Kong's largest private property developer, the Chinachem group.

The Chan camp has applied to the court to appoint administrators to protect the assets of Wang's estate including the Chinachem group, given concerns over its financial health.