KUALA LUMPUR, April 7 — Business magnate Tan Sri Khoo Kay Peng who owns the Laura Ashley brand has been ordered by a British court to pay £64 million (RM354.2 million) to his former wife Pauline Chai as settlement for their divorce.
In the ruling made yesterday, UK judge David Bodey said Chai should receive the divorce settlement in the form of both cash and property, UK paper The Guardian reported.
It said the judge’s detailed judgment on how the matrimonial assets would be split between the duo is expected to be released soon.
“I just want to thank my superb legal team ― everyone at Vardags, Richard Todd QC and Nicholas Yates. Thank you,” Chai said in an emailed statement to Malay Mail Online after the UK court ruling.
“This litigation has been long and arduous. It is a journey which has now ended in the affirmation of the principle of fair sharing. It emphasises that there is no place in England for discrimination between home maker and bread winner. I am so proud of the whole team including our client who worked so hard on this case,” Chai’s lawyer Ayesha Vardag added in the same emailed statement.
According to The Guardian, Chai who was the Miss Malaysia 1969 winner had sought £100 million (RM553 million) or about half of the assets which she claimed was valued at least £205 million (RM1.13 billion).
Khoo had previously argued that Chai should only be given £9 million (RM49.77 million) of the assets.
Chai and Khoo, aged 70 and 78 respectively, had been married for 42 years prior to their divorce and have five children.
The Guardian said both of them had used over £6 million (RM33.18 million) for their long court battle over the divorce.
In January, the UK courts granted Chai a decree absolute, which formally ended her marriage to Khoo.
Even before the actual divorce hearings could take place, Khoo and Chai had engaged in legal disputes on whether it should be heard in the UK or Malaysia.
The Malaysia-based Khoo, who is also chair of international brand Laura Ashley, had argued that the divorce should be settled in Malaysia, where the courts tend to award a smaller sum to the wife as they place less importance on non-financial and home-building contributions.
Chai argued that as they had moved to a UK home before their separation, the divorce should be decided in the UK, where the courts tend to place equal value on the contributions of a breadwinner and a homemaker in a marriage and where she would have stood the chance of getting up to 50 per cent of the assets.
According to The Guardian, Chai had during the UK divorce hearings said she owned half of the “family’s business empire” and that their assets were jointly owned although Khoo was the owner on paper.
“I looked at marriage in the traditional way. He is the breadwinner and I stayed at home and looked after the children. It was a daunting task,” she was quoted saying, also claiming that Khoo had always told her “what’s mine is yours”.
In a separate report by UK paper The Sun, Chai had reportedly testified previously in court that their marriage was a “partnership” and that she had made “full and equal contribution in a long marriage” by doing her “job” of looking after the family and house.