A former Miss Malaysia is seeking Britain’s biggest ever divorce payout of £500 million has began an attempt to have her case heard in London.
Pauline Chai was Miss Malaysia in 1969
Pauline Chai and her estranged husband Khoo Kay Peng, one of Malaysia’s wealthiest businessmen, are embroiled in a High Court battle over where the case should be heard.
The mother of five, who has been living on their 1,000 acre £30million home in Hertfordshire since October, issued a divorce petition in England in February.
But Dr Khoo, to whom she was married for 42 years, wants the hearing to be in Malaysia, the Times reported.
His lawyers have told the High Court that allowing the case to be heard here would enhance “the ill-gotten reputation of this country for being the divorce capital of the world”.
In London Dr Khoo is likely to be liable for 50 per cent of his wealth, whereas in his home country he would not be liable for such a large amount.
The law requires that a person is in the country for at least six months before lodging a divorce petition, and Ms Chai wants to lodge a second petition show “beyond doubt” that she has complied.
Tim Bishop, QC, representing Dr Khoo, said if she was allowed people could come to England for three months, issue a “spurious” petition and then issue a second when they had established themselves.
However, Ms Chai’s counsel, Richard Todd, QC argued she was not trying to “have her cake and eat it” and was acting within the rules.
Lawyers for Dr Khoo had suggested that the Attorney-General might need to be involved, as the seeking of a second divorce petition raised issues of public policy.
Mr Todd said, said it was a “ludicrous” was of time, adding that he half-expected him to request the “Witchfinder-General and for good measure, let’s call Ghostbusters”.
While he attempted to clothe his argument in the “robes of some great public policy issued”, it boiled down to an “old-fashioned grubby desire to be in the Jurisdiction where he thinks he can do better,” Mr Todd added.
Mr Justice Coleridge adjourned the case for a fuller hearing.
After the case Ayesha Vardag, lawyer for Ms Chai, said: “This is a classic case of forum shopping by the husband. The wife petitioned in England where the family have their £30 million home.”
The couple have lived a lavish lifestyle with staffed properties in Kuala Lumpur and Canada alongside the Hertfordshire estate which boasts an exotic menagerie, including alpacas and llamas, and two lakes, each constructed for £60,000. Dr Khoo also has two oceanfront penthouses in Australia.
The 74-year-old is the chairman of Malaysia United Industries, an investment company with extensive global business interests and he has interests in Laura Ashley and owns ten hotels in Britain, including the opulent Corus Hyde Park.
SOURCE: The Telegraph