The feng shui master and the billionaire
The former lover and feng shui master to one of Asia's wealthiest women has been found guilty of forging a will that named him as the sole beneficiary of her multibillion-dollar estate in a case that has transfixed Hong Kong.
Peter Chan, 53, is facing a possible jail sentence after a jury convicted him of forging the will of the late eccentric billionaire widow Nina Wang, whose death from cancer in 2007 sparked an inheritance battle over her vast estate.
The long-running case has been one of Hong Kong's most colourful and high-profile legal sagas, in which the court heard detailed descriptions of adultery, bizarre rituals associated with feng shui and the physical relationship between Chan and Wang, who was 23 years his senior.
Chan claimed that Wang left him US$4 billion through a 2006 will, in part because they had been lovers for 15 years.
But after more than 20 hours of deliberations, the jury voted six to two in the High Court in Hong Kong to convict Chan, formerly known as Tony Chan, on a charge of forgery and using a false instrument. He faces a maximum jail term of 14 years for each offence.
Wang, who was also known by the nickname "Little Sweetie", was an eccentric figure known for her pig-tails, short skirts and colourful dress sense.
She was the widow of Hong Kong industrialist Teddy Wang, who was kidnapped in 1990 and was never seen again. In 1999 he was declared legally dead, and his body has never been found.
The Wangs' Chinachem Group was Hong Kong's largest private property developer, earning them billions in property deals.
Chan, a former bartender and self-taught feng shui master who is married with children, said he was hired by Wang in 1992 to help find her missing husband.
But their business relationship was said to have developed into a sexual one.
The court heard that Wang was involved in many eccentric feng shui rituals to try to locate her husband.
She ordered contractors dig as many as 80 feng shui holes to be filled with pieces of jade at properties owned by Chinachem Group, in what many feng shui masters regarded as planting a "life base", according to the South China Morning Post. Chan denied it was his idea.
Wang's family denied that Chan had been in a relationship with the late tycoon.
In response, Chan supplied a video to the court showing Wang and himself locking lips and of him running his hands over her body.
A court in 2011 had dismissed Chan's claims to the inheritance, ruling in favour of a charity run by Wang's siblings, Chinachem Charitable Foundation Ltd, whose claim to her estate rested on a will from 2002.
Chan then was arrested and charged with forging the will, resulting in the criminal trial in the High Court.
Several weeks before his criminal trial began, Chan converted to Christianity and renounced feng shui, calling it "a work of evil", according to the South China Morning Post.
He also announced that his son had been stripped of his name "Wealthee".
The court also heard for the first time that Chan had 10 previous criminal convictions relating to dishonest applications of credit cards by claiming to be a qualified medical doctor working in public hospitals, earning more than HK$460,000 each year.
He was fined HK$20,000 in 1986 after he pleaded guilty to 10 counts, including obtaining property by deception and obtaining services by deception.
After Thursday's verdict, Chan appeared flushed and lowered his head in the witness box, but showed no outward emotion.
"Without the lawsuits, I would not have gone to church and would not have experienced God," Chan told the South China Morning Post in an earlier interview. "I have no regrets."
The judge was expected to sentence Chan on Friday.
Sydney Morning Herald