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Gaming tycoon at war with kin

[ 2011-01-26 13:12]     字号 [] [] []  
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Stanley Ho, the ailing 89-year-old tycoon who turned the sleepy backwater of Macao into Asia's gaming capital, accused his huge family on Tuesday of robbery in a dispute over his $3 billion fortune.

Ho's lawyer said some members of the casino magnate's family, comprising of at least 17 children born to four wives, had "fraudulently misappropriated" his flagship company and he was "hopping mad".

"They have 48 hours to come to the table or we're going to start High Court proceedings" to secure an empire built up over four decades by the family patriarch, said Gordon Oldham, a partner from Oldham, Lie & Nie in Hong Kong.

"He said to me this morning: 'You tell everyone it was robbery'," he said.

But members of the family hit back, insisting that Ho was fully aware of an agreement to divide SJM Holdings up among his sprawling clan, and threatened to take their own legal action against his lawyers.

The colorful Ho, once a keen ballroom dancer known for his playboy lifestyle, was taken to the hospital in mid-2009 for unspecified reasons. Reports said he fell at home and suffered a brain injury.

He has rarely been seen in public since, raising questions about the future of SJM and other businesses. His fortune is reported to be worth $3.1 billion.

Those questions seemed to have been laid to rest on Monday when, in a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, SJM said Ho had offloaded the lion's share of his Macao casino company, primarily to the families of his second and third wives.

"(Ho) has always made clear that when he dies, he wants his assets split equally among his families," Oldham said, adding that the two families were "trying to run away with the crown jewels".

"When members of your family turn on you, it makes you wonder who you can trust," he added.

However, Ho's relatives denied on Tuesday that the share transfer was done without the tycoon's approval, and released a letter from his adult daughter Daisy in which her father appeared to confirm the deal.

All the transactions "were approved or authorized in writing by Dr Stanley Ho," said a statement from the relatives' holding company, Lanceford.

"It is regrettable that Oldham, Lie & Nie rushed to publicize these matters without checking the underlying facts in connection with the relevant transactions, and we reserve our rights against that firm," it added.

Hong Kong-listed SJM shares were suspended from trading on Tuesday before markets opened pending the release of "price-sensitive information".

Macao is the only city in China that allows casinos. It raked in $23.5 billion in gaming revenues last year.

Ho enjoyed a monopoly on Macao casinos from the 1960s to 2002, when licenses were granted to other companies including some of the big Vegas players.


1. What is the name of the gaming giant?

2. What island is he responsible for helping develop into Asia’s gaming capital?

3. How much is his fortune worth?


1. Standley Ho.

2. Macao.

3. $3.1 billion.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Gaming tycoon at war with kin

Gaming tycoon at war with kin

Todd Balazovic is a reporter for the Metro Section of China Daily. Born in Mineapolis Minnesota in the US, he graduated from Central Michigan University and has worked for the China Daily for one year.