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Ho sues family, lawyer says tycoon was coerced

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A lawyer who claims to be acting on behalf of local gaming magnate Stanley Ho Hung Sun, revealed yesterday that he had filed a court suit to try to recover Ho’s assets. The writ also seeks to “restrain” the directors of Lanceford, the company that controls the bulk of Ho’s wealth, from further share transaction.
The claim filed at Hong Kong’s High Court, quoted by Reuters, accuses Ho’s third wife Ina Chan Un Chan, the children of his second wife Lucina Laam King Ying – Daisy, Pansy, Maisy, Josie and Lawrence Ho – and one of his long-time collaborators, banker Patrick Huen Wing Ming, of issuing new shares without his consent.

The suit also names as defendants the two companies that now own Lanceford: Action Winner Holdings (50.5 percent) and Ranillo Investments (49.5 percent). Ho’s third wife Chan Un Chan owns Action Winner, while the millionaire’s children from his second wife Lucina Laam control Ranillo Investments.
The document signed by the millionaire asks for the annulment of the massive December 27 share issuance that diluted Ho’s stake at Lanceford to less than 1 percent, and a declaration that the “shares were improperly and/or unlawfully allotted”. Aside from the restraining order, the suit also seeks compensation for alleged “breach of fiduciary duties” from the company directors: Daisy, Pansy, Lucina Laam and Patrick Huen.
Lawyer Gordon Oldham filed the suit late Wednesday just hours after Ho had confirmed the share transfer and dismissed the attorney. In an interview with Hong Kong television TVB, the millionaire read from a giant cue card while flanked by relatives.
“Regarding his statement on television, this was not his sentiment. He wants to continue. He is trying to get his wealth back,” Oldham told Reuters. “He had been pressurised into making that statement,” he added in a document released by his law firm.
Oldham said he met Ho on Wednesday evening, before filing the court suit: “I asked him for an explanation about his earlier appearance on TV”, the lawyer told Hong Kong broadcaster Cable News.

“He said that he felt very pressurised by his family to read out that statement. He wasn’t at all happy in doing so.”
Oldham also said he has a videotape of a meeting with Ho last Friday, at his residence on Repulse Bay Road, in Hong Kong, in which the lawyer was told to “take vigorous action” against the family members involved in the Lanceford arrangement, which the 89-year-old businessman described as “robbery”.
The uncertainty over the control of STDM, the major shareholder of Hong Kong-listed SJM Holdings, continues to weigh on the company’s stock. In yesterday’s trading session, SJM started on the up but shares swiftly fell as soon as the lawsuit was reported, to close losing a further 3 percent to HKD 12.72.

[Stanley Ho] ‘said that he felt very pressurised by his family to read out that statement. He wasn’t at all happy in doing so,’ said Ho’s lawyer,
Gordon Oldham

The ‘asthma’ silence

A “short chat” with the eldest daughter of magnate Stanley Ho got a lot shorter yesterday.
Late Wednesday Macau Daily Times was invited to a “short chat” with Angela Ho, daughter of Ho’s late first wife Clementina Ângela Leitão Brito. The meeting was scheduled for Thursday at 3.30pm but later on was pushed back to 4.30pm.
As local Chinese and Hong Kong media began to hear about the chat, MDTimes was warned to call a staff member at arrival because “not all people will be allowed in”.
The unexpected warning was for a good reason. The former house of Clementina Leitão in a sleepy street of Penha hill was surrounded by journalists and camera crews, all ready for the kill.
It would be just “a chat with friends from the local media,” focusing on Clementina Leitão’s importance to Stanley Ho’s winning a gaming monopoly on Macau casinos in the 1960s and their relationship, Angela’s staff and two nieces – granddaughters of Stanley Ho and Clementina Leitão – told journalists.
She was late, they added, from “an important appointment”. After an hour of waiting Angela’s husband assured she was “almost arriving”.
Only after another hour did her staff and relatives tell the media that the chat was cancelled. Angela, they said, had spent the last one-hour-and-a-half in a Macau clinic dealing with an asthma attack that had left her “unable to talk”.
This was just the latest twist that the dispute over the control of Stanley Ho’s wealth has gone through in the last few days.

Events of a family dispute

December 3, 2010
Stanley Ho transfers his 11.55 percent share in property developer and ferry operator Shun Tak to Hanika Realty, a firm controlled by Lucina Laam and their five children, which becomes Shun Tak’s biggest single shareholder
December 15

The tycoon transfers his direct 7 percent stake in SJM Holdings to his fourth wife Angela Leong On Kei
December 23

Lanceford, which controlled the magnate’s share in STDM, changes its corporate secretary and the location of its registered filings to the offices of Hong Kong law firm King & Wood
December 27

Lanceford, in a document signed by director Daisy Ho, issues 9,998 new shares to Action Winner and Ranillo Investments, companies owned respectively by Ho’s third wife, Ina Chan Un Chan, and by Lucina Laam’s five children, diluting Ho’s interest to 0.02 percent
Late December

Angela Leong is appointed managing director of local gaming operator SJM, a subsidiary of SJM Holdings, replacing Ho
January 5, 2011

Ho sends a letter to Daisy, claiming that the Lanceford share issuance was made “without my consent and knowledge”. He orders his daughter to visit him, in order to “transfer all my shares of STDM to equal amounts” divided among the families of his four wives
January 7

Daisy replies, mentioning a meeting in which “any misunderstanding there might have been has been cleared up”. Ho endorses the letter: “I reaffirm my instructions in relation to my gift of the STDM shares to Lucina [Laam] and Ina [Chan]”
January 21
In a videotaped meeting, Ho instructs lawyer Gordon Oldham to “take vigorous action” against the family members involved in the Lanceford arrangement
January 24

Trading in the shares of SJM on the Hong Kong stock exchange is suspended during the morning. SJM announces the Lanceford arrangement and says Ho “no longer has an attributable interest in shares” of the company
January 25
Oldham said Ho was ready to sue his family for fraud. Trading in the shares of SJM was suspended during the whole session and SJM says the dispute “does not directly affect the company”. Ina Chan and her daughter Florinda Ho Chiu Wan read two statements from Ho, saying the dispute was just “one big misunderstanding” and approving the operation
January 26
In a television interview, Ho, flanked by relatives, read from a giant cue card: “The matter has been resolved”. The magnate said he no longer needed the services of Oldham. The lawyer rejected the statement and filed a court claim trying to recover Ho’s assets. Angela Ho, daughter of Ho’s first wife Clementina Leitão, also says his statements “do not conform” to his wishes
January 27
Oldham says Ho was pressured by his family to make the television statement, which did not reflect his sentiment. Angela Ho invites Macau media for a talk that is cancelled after two hours of waiting, due to an “asthma attack”


V.Q.

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