HONG KONG – The former lover and fortune teller of quirky billionaire Nina Wang was sentenced Friday to 12 years in prison after a Hong Kong court found him guilty of forging a will to claim her multibillion-dollar estate.
High Court Justice Andrew Macrae said Peter Chan’s attempt to pass himself off as the beneficiary of Nina Wang’s fortune, estimated by prosecutors at 83 billion Hong Kong dollars ($10.7 billion), was “shameless, wicked and born of unparalleled greed.”
Wang, once Asia’s richest woman, died in 2007 at age 69 after battling cancer.
Hong Kong police charged Chan after a 2011 court ruling that a will purportedly leaving Wang’s Chinachem Group to him was forged.
The legal battles over the will have enthralled the Chinese territory with their seamy mix of sex, big money and fraud allegations. Hong Kongers were riveted by juicy revelations of Chan’s affair with Wang, who was two decades older than him. She was nicknamed “Little Sweetie” for her girlish outfits and pigtail hairdo.
Chan, a 53-year-old father of three, was convicted Thursday of forgery and using a false instrument. The judge sentenced him to 12 years on each count, to be served concurrently.
Chan is a former feng shui master who changed his name from Tony after converting recently to Christianity.
In an attempt to prove that Wang and Chan’s relationship was genuine, Chan’s defence team showed videos in court last month of the pair kissing and caressing, according to media reports.
The judge said Chan was not content with the HK$3 billion ($387 million) that Wang had given to him while she was alive and decided to claim her business empire and estate as well.
“I have no doubt you are nothing more than a clever and no doubt beguiling charlatan,” Macrae said in sentencing Chan, who rocked back and forth with a pained expression while his wife wept quietly in the public gallery.
Macrae said Chan’s forgery was especially egregious because had he succeeded, it would have prevented the estate from going as intended to a charitable foundation Wang and her late husband founded and cost it millions in legal fees.
“Instead of benefiting mankind as Nina Wang wanted, the only one to benefit would have been you,” the judge said.
In the earlier court ruling, a judge upheld another will bestowing the fortune on Wang’s Chinachem Charitable Foundation.
Wang inherited developer Chinachem after her husband was kidnapped in 1990. He was never found despite a $33 million ransom his family paid. She built the company into a huge property developer, with office towers and apartment complexes throughout Hong Kong.
The pair met in 1992 when Wang sought out a feng shui master to find her husband. Chan was already married and had a patchy resume as a waiter, bartender, machinery salesman and market researcher, making him an unlikely match for Wang.
The judge also ordered Chan to repay the estimated HK$2 million ($258,000) cost of a preliminary hearing that he said was a waste of time and money.
Chan’s lawyer declined to say whether he would appeal.
Follow Kelvin Chan at twitter.com/chanman