Stephen Chow Says Offer To Give 10% Of Investment Profits To Ex-Girlfriend Not Legally Binding 'Cos It Was Just Sweet Nothings
Be careful with what you promise, especially when it involves money and was made in a moment of passion. This is one lesson Hongkong auteur Stephen Chow probably learned after getting embroiled in a messy financial lawsuit with his ex-girlfriend, socialite and heiress Yu Manfung, also known as Alice.
After ending their 13-year relationship in 2010, Alice took legal action against Stephen to claim millions of dollars in commission fees from his real estate investment profits. More details from both sides were revealed when the case went to court on Wednesday (Nov 18).
Neither Stephen nor Alice were personally present at the hearing and were represented by their attorneys. According to Alice’s side, the former couple had a business relationship in addition to being lovers, with Alice helping Stephen to handle his investments and funds while he focused on making movies.
On Christmas Day in 2002, they reached a verbal agreement where Stephen would give Alice 10 per cent of the profits from his investments in properties that she recommended. This includes three houses in Hongkong’s Beverly Hills neighbourhood and the hilltop bungalow he reportedly mortgaged a few months back.
In all, Alice was expecting to receive more than HK$70mil (S$12.1mil), but she claims she hasn’t seen a single cent.
While Stephen’s lawyer admitted that the star really did tell Alice that he would give her a portion of his investment profits, he argued that it was simply a private conservation between two lovers instead of an official agreement. After having dinner at Stephen’s house together, they stepped out to the balcony overlooking the gorgeous Victoria Harbour view and talked about the future.
This means that what Stephen offered to Alice was, at the very most, simply a romantic declaration in the heat of the moment — in other words, he was just whispering sweet nothings in her ear — and has absolutely no legal effect. His rep also pointed out that the pair had signed other documents that same year, so they should have put the above agreement down in black and white if they wanted it to be taken seriously.
In addition, it was revealed that not all of Alice’s recommended investments were successful and that she had made Stephen lose at least HK$13mil (S$2.3mil), so she can’t just ‘cherry-pick’ whatever details suit her by calculating the investment profits while leaving out his losses.
The hearing also unearthed some background info about Alice. She was born into a prominent family and her father is Yu Ching Po, the founder of real estate development company Hong Kong Construction Holdings. She started being involved in the family business from a very young age, which explains her knowledge and experience in the field.
When she started dating Stephen in 1997 or 1998, she began helping out at his company before quitting her previous job to join him full-time. He signed her on as his financial consultant, and her monthly salary at the start was HK$30,000 (S$5,200), which was increased to HK$59,000 (S$10,000) for a while before going back down to HK$30,000.
The hearing continues today (November 19) and Alice is expected to appear in court to testify.