This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly on July 15, 2019 - July 21, 2019
AFTER five years and multiple suits, the Genting family feud is finally set to end amicably.
Court documents sighted by The Edge confirm that the two key warring factions involved in the family dispute have agreed to a global settlement of all claims and counterclaims against each other.
Lawyers involved in the cases tell The Edge that the global settlement will affect nine ongoing suits between the two factions.
On one side are the three grandchildren of the late Genting group patriarch Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong from his eldest son, the late Datuk Lim Tee Keong. The three siblings are Joey Lim Keong Yew, Benjamin Lim Keong Hoe and Marie Lim Seok Leng.
On the other side are their uncles Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay — the chairman and chief executive of Genting Bhd — and Datuk Lim Chee Wah as well as other related parties.
Also named in some of the suits is Puan Sri Lee Kim Hua, the late wife of Goh Tong. She died in August 2017 amid the ongoing legal battles.
According to a consent order filed with the Kuala Lumpur High Court on July 1 for one of the suits involving the two factions, the settlement was reached without liberty to file afresh.
The consent order states that the three children of Tee Keong and their uncles “agree to a full and final settlement and this action and all claims against each other in the terms as set out in the Settlement Agreement dated 1 July 2019 agreed to by all parties …”.
The document also states that the settlement was endorsed by High Court Judge S Nantha Balan, who was the mediator. It is worth noting that while the settlement has been agreed to, the procedural process of wrapping up the suits will take some time.
It is learnt that the parties had undergone three rounds of mediation before arriving at agreeable terms of settlement. However, the exact terms of settlement were not known at press time.
It is understood that the grant of probate for Kim Hua’s estate was also issued by the Kuala Lumpur High Court last Thursday.
When contacted, lawyer Yee Mei Ken of Shearn Delamore & Co — who represents Kok Thay, Chee Wah and their late mother Kim Hua, among other parties — confirms the settlement and says it represents an “amicable closure” for the family members.
“I am relieved to finally be able to fulfil the final wishes of Puan Sri Lee for her children and grandchildren to reconcile their differences,” says Yee.
Meanwhile, Mohd Izral Khairy from law firm Izral Partnership, who acts for Keong Hoe and Seok Leng, also confirms the settlement.
Tee Keong’s will and trust
The family feud involving the children of Tee Keong and their uncles have multiple facets.
One relates to the will of Tee Keong, who was bankrupt when he died of cancer in early 2014. He owed as much as RM146.62 million to 13 creditors, according to previous court documents.
In a nutshell, Tee Keong’s will — signed about a month before he died — had excluded his sons Keong Yew and Keong Hoe from being beneficiaries.
Instead, Tee Keong’s wife, Datin Agnes Tan Bee Geik, was given 10% of the estate while another 10% went to their daughter Seok Leng.
The bulk of Tee Keong’s estate went to his children with Joanne Fok Chan Kok — Kenneth Lim Keong Wye was given 60% and Katherine Lim Seok Yan, 20%.
Consequently, Keong Yew and Keong Hoe contested their late father’s will and alleged in court submissions that his signature on the March 2014 will was forged, citing signature experts.
Another point of contention was the family trust established for Tee Keong by his father Goh Tong. Tee Keong’s children were essentially disputing why they had been left out of the trust.
Tee Keong’s children had contended that the Tee Keong family trust had been created and established for the benefit of Tee Keong and his family members, including themselves and their descendants.
Dispute over power of attorney
When Kim Hua died, another dispute arose after it emerged that she had conferred a power of attorney to her sons, Kok Thay and Chee Wah, in September 2012 — two years after she had suffered from a stroke.
Keong Yew, Keong Hoe and Seok Leng filed a suit challenging the validity of the transfer and seeking to rescind the power of attorney given to their uncles.
It is worth noting that the power of attorney is irrevocable, applies worldwide and is wide-ranging in respect to Kim Hua’s assets. It was transferred in exchange for RM10 via a document that bore her thumbprint instead of a signature.
There were two witnesses named in respect to Kim Hua’s acknowledgement of the transfer via thumbprint, namely Datuk Joseph Lai Khee Sin and Keng Siew Hong.
According to previous court documents filed by the siblings, the authenticity of the general power of attorney is doubtful given the health of their grandmother at the time and the RM10 sum, as Goh Tong’s wife was known to be financially prudent and thrifty.
“At the time when the general power of attorney is alleged to have been executed, the third defendant (Kim Hua) was not of sound mind, memory and/or understanding or was otherwise incapable of understanding or appreciating the purport, nature, extent or consequence of the general power of attorney by reason of, inter alia, having suffered a stroke in or about September 2010,” according to previous court submissions.
The submission also questioned the use of her thumbprint given that Kim Hua had a handwritten signature with Chinese characters.
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