Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun, known as the “King of Gambling”, is being sued by his nephew for HK$2bil (US$255mil) in unpaid shares dividends, according to a legal document and people familiar with the situation.
Michael Hotung, also known as Mak Shun Ming, filed a writ on Tuesday at the Hong Kong High Court against his uncle, his auntie Nanette Ho Yuen-hung and casino operator Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau (STDM) in Macau.
In it, he claims the dividends on more than 6,000 shares in STDM purchased by his late mother have not been paid since 2007. He is also claiming interest payments for the money.
The writ did not list the amount sought but people familiar with the situation told the Post that Hotung wanted HK$2bil in compensation.
STDM is the flagship casino operator co-founded by Stanley Ho more than half a century ago, which until 2000 enjoyed a monopoly in Macau’s gambling industry. Since then, other operators have been granted licences.
Hotung is taking the legal action on behalf of the estate of his mother Winnie Ho Yuen-ki, who died aged 95 last June. Hotung is the sole executor of her will, according to the writ.
Winnie Ho, one of Stanley Ho’s many sisters, invested in and helped run STDM in Macau in the 1960s and 1970s, according to the writ.
She gave birth to Michael Hotung out of wedlock with her cousin and secret lover, the billionaire Eric Hotung, who died in October 2017.
The relationship between the gambling king and his sister turned sour amid a series of legal disputes since 2000 over control of STDM.
Winnie Ho has invested millions of dollars in STDM since 1962 and owned 6,263 shares, which represented 7.34 per cent of STDM as of 2008, when its subsidiary SJM Holdings was listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, the writ said.
She received dividend payments every year from 1962 until 2006, but not after 2007. The dividend payments were between HK$24.18mil and HK$77.22mil every year during the period of 2000 to 2006, according to the document.
Since her death, Hotung has requested that STDM and his uncle Stanley Ho recognise that Winnie Ho’s estate and related companies own the 6,263 shares in STDM and are owed the dividend payments. STDM has rejected his requests, while his uncle has offered no response, according to the writ.
“I no longer regard her as a sister,” Stanley Ho was quoted as saying after a shareholders” meeting in 2005 that ousted his sister from the board.
Winnie has since filed more than 30 lawsuits against her brother over money owed, defamation and share disputes which was only resolved in 2008 to pave the way for SJM’s listing.
Stanley Ho, 97, has rarely been seen in public since he fell and hurt his head at home in 2009. He officially retired from SJM in June last year. His daughter, Daisy Ho, is now the chairwoman.
SJM closed at HK$7.11 on Wednesday, up 2.16 per cent.
Additional reporting by Chris Lau
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