Khoo Kay Peng-Wife-Khoo Kay-Demands $650 Million-Pay Off!!

End of jet-set pair’s marriage could bring £500m award for ex-beauty queen wife

Pauline ChaiA former Miss Malaysia is seeking a divorce from her multimillionaire husband and a half-share of his fortune that could be the largest court award in British divorce history.

Pauline Chai, who lives in Hertfordshire, is petitioning to divorce Khoo Kay Peng, one of Malaysia’s wealthiest businessmen with a fortune estimated at hundreds of millions of pounds.

The case is the latest big-money marriage break-up to feature in the English courts and could produce an award of as much as £400-500 million, lawyers believe.

 

The couple, who married in 1970 and have five grown-up children, have lived a lavish lifestyle with staffed properties in England, Koo Kay PengKuala Lumpur, Australia, and a multi-property estate in Canada. Dr Khoo also has two oceanfront penthouses in Australia.

But in 1998 they bought a 1,000-acre estate in Hertfordshire estimated to be worth £30 million which then became the family home, complete with an exotic animal menagerie, including alpacas and llamas, and with two custom-built lakes each constructed for £60,000.

Last month Ms Chai lodged a petition for divorce in London on grounds of “unreasonable behaviour” and preliminary hearings are expected to take place over the next few months. One of the issues will be Dr Khoo’s worth — his wife will claim 50 per cent of it, as is the norm in the British divorce court — and whether the family properties, technically owned by his companies, are part of the couple’s joint wealth.

Dr Khoo, 74, is the chairman of Malaysia United Industries, an investment company with extensive global business interests in which he has a stake valued at almost £60 million.

He came to prominence in Britain in the late Nineties when the company bought a 40 per cent stake in the retailer Laura Ashley, which now has sales of £286 million a year — in part prompting the couple’s move to make England their base. Two of their five children also went to university here: Andrew, went to Cambridge in 1998 and Angeline, his sister, went to Oxford.

Dr Khoo also has a personal interest in Laura Ashley, with a further 26 per cent of the company, via Bonham Industries Ltd, that is estimated to be worth over £50 million. He is also director of Corus Hotels Limited, which owns ten hotels in Britain including the opulent Corus Hyde Park Hotel.

The couple have had a globe-trotting lifestyle. They lived in Malaysia but Ms Chai, now 66, moved the children to Australia when Malaysian schools stopped teaching in English.

They had extravagant holidays all over the world. Dr Khoo is a collector of cars and regularly travels in chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royces with bodyguards and personal assistants.

Ayesha Vardag, the lawyer acting for Ms Chai, said: “English law works on the basis of a 50-50 split of assets unless there is a reason to depart from that principle. We have wealth here that was built up over 40 years and a wife’s entitlement would be half of that. Any question of need is secondary.”

Ms Vardag said that Ms Chai had made her home in England and was entitled to the justice of the land.

There have been a string of high-profile divorce settlements in the UK courts but where couples are international they must show that there is a reason to file for divorce in London — in other words, that they have a connection with Britain.

Other big divorce settlements include that of Boris Berezovsky, whose wife received £100-200 million. But that was reached privately, out of court.

The highest court-ordered award is that of £48 million to Beverley Charman in 2006 when her marriage to a City insurance broker ended.

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