International Policy Digest

The Business Times
Sponsored Content /23 Dec 2016

Son of the Late Go Eng Wah Sues Father’s Estate

Goh Keng Beng, the third son of the late cinema tycoon, Go Eng Wah, who was the founder of the Eng Wa Organization, is suing his father’s estate because he claims that his father posthumously owes him over $10 million.

This controversial case has raised some pertinent questions about the possibility of adult children making claims against their parents’ estate.

Mr. Goh was renowned as a forerunner in the local cinema industry by building the business up to incorporating everything from entertainment to properties, hospitality, and lifestyle in both Singapore and Malaysia.

His death at 92 was recorded on the 5th of September 2015 and he was survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters. Since his death, his widow, oldest daughter, Min Lu, and older son, Keng Soon, have died. Keng Beng and his sister Min Yen are the two surviving children.

The son, Mr. Goh Keng Beng, claims to have had an agreement with his father, to compensate him $15.75 million for multiple losses experienced in 2008 when there was a reverse takeover. A deed of settlement was prepared by a lawyer in 2008.

The lawsuit was big news and was brought to the High Court in June. Goh Keng Beng is claiming that he is owed the remaining $10 million. He received $5.15 million between 2008 and 2012 before his father’s death.

Keng Beng’s sister, Min Yen, is the executor and trustee of her father’s will. She contests her brother’s case, stating that it is “manifestly false and completely lacks any basis.”

Min Yen claims that her father’s poor understanding of English suggests that her father did not create this document, and implies that Keng Beng duped their father into signing his estate away. Keng Beng was the only witness to the legally binding document.

In the document, an agreed $3.12 million was due to be signed over annually. Keng Beng acknowledged that he had received four cheques in the value of $150,000 in 2008 and a further $5 million afterwards.

Min Yen claims that even if their father had agreed to this, her brother’s claims have time limitations as six years of non-payment have passed.

The trial is set for a pre-trial conference on Dec 29. Paul Hewitt from Withers LLP said “the Supreme Court needs to bring much greater clarity about when adult children may claim against an estate. The Court of Appeal decision created open season for claims – even where estrangements have lasted decades. Charities are hugely dependent on the generosity of donors who give through their wills and clarity would benefit all those making a will – they deserve to know if their final wishes are likely to be respected or not.”

The case illustrates the need for clarifications and regulations.

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