Feng shui master jailed for forgery

Feng shui master Tony Chan is sentenced to 12 years in jail for forging the will of one of the richest women in Hong Kong

THE 'CHARLATAN.' A judge called feng shui master Tony Chan 'shameless and wicked' for forging the will of a woman who was once Hong Kong's richest. Photo from AFP

HONG KONG – A “charlatan” who claimed to be the lover of a late Hong Kong billionaire was jailed on July 5 for 12 years after a court convicted him of forging her will in a bid to steal her fortune.

Bartender-turned-feng shui master Tony Chan had claimed to be the sole beneficiary of Nina Wang’s US$13-B estate, which she inherited after the kidnapping and disappearance of her property mogul husband.

A court had ruled in 2010 — 3 years after Wang’s death — that a will in Chan’s possession was fake. After more than 20 hours of deliberation, a jury on July 4 found him guilty of forging the document.

Sentencing the 53-year-old, judge Andrew Macrae on July 5 described his conduct as “shameless and wicked as well as borne of unparalleled greed.”

“Forgery of a will is particularly nasty and insidious,” said Macrae, as the deceased “can’t answer back.”

“You are no doubt a clever, and no doubt beguiling, charlatan,” the judge said, describing his actions as “cruel and egregious.”

Chan lowered his head into his hands when the sentence was read out before a courtroom packed with reporters, and smiled as he left the dock.

The sensational case has gripped the former British colony and generated blanket media coverage for years, with Chan often cast as a fraudster who duped Wang by promising to find her kidnapped husband and cure her of cancer.

Much of the case revolved around Chan’s claims that he and Wang were lovers and that she promised to leave him everything. During the trial, his lawyers showed a home video of the pair in a passionate embrace.

But the court heard that Chan was a grasping chancer who, despite earning HK$3-B (US$385-M) from Wang for his feng shui services, was not content and wanted to take over her entire business empire and fortune.

“Never once…has there been the slightest remorse for your conduct,” Macrae said, adding that the forgery was “extremely well planned.”

Wang, once Asia’s richest woman, was known for her thrifty nature and outlandish dress sense, and was nicknamed “Little Sweetie” for her pigtail hairstyle. She died of cancer in 2007 aged 69, triggering a bitter public feud over her fortune.

Wang’s husband Teddy, who started the Chinachem Group property empire, was abducted in 1990 and declared legally dead in 1999. His body has never been found.

His disappearance kicked off a heated legal battle between Wang and her father-in-law for control of the Chinachem Group. She eventually won the case just two years before her own death in 2007.

After Chan lost his legal battle to the estate, the court ruled it would be passed onto the billionaire’s charity, the Chinachem Charitable Foundation, which is run by her siblings.

The court had ruled in 2010 that the will in Chan’s possession was a “highly skilled simulation,” siding with the charity’s claim to the estate based on an earlier will.

Chan had built a career advising clients including Wang on feng shui, an ancient Chinese belief system based on harnessing natural and spiritual energies.

But earlier this year, he renounced the practice for Christianity, calling feng shui the work of the devil and changing his name to Peter, the South China Morning Post reported.

Chan had said he was not afraid of going to jail.

“Since I have received the greatest salvation…other things don’t matter to me any more,” he was quoted as saying in March in reference to his religious conversion.

Chan’s lawyer Andrew Kan did not respond to questions about whether he would appeal the sentence. – Rappler.com

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