Singapore

Businessman wins bid to get back $13m from ex-mistress

However, judge dismisses his claims on apartment and Mercedes-Benz, which she concluded were gifts

A married businessman from China who was wooing a flight attendant bought her a $3 million apartment at The Interlace as a birthday present.

On the day she signed purchase documents, he told her to order a Mercedes-Benz of her choice.

After they began their affair, Mr Xu Zhigang transferred two sums totalling US$9.6 million (S$13 million) to Ms Wang Fang, in July 2014 and February 2015. Their relationship ended in November 2017.

Last year, Mr Xu sued his former mistress to get back the money, the apartment and the car, claiming she was holding them on trust for him.

Ms Wang, who refused to return the assets, argued that they were gifts.

Yesterday, Mr Xu largely succeeded in his claim to get back the money, after the High Court allowed him to recover about US$9.4 million from Ms Wang.

In a written judgment, Justice Audrey Lim accepted Mr Xu's explanation that the sums of money were moved to Ms Wang for temporary safekeeping as his companies in China were facing financial difficulties at the time.

However, the judge dismissed Mr Xu's claims on the apartment and the car, which she concluded were gifts.

Mr Xu, who is in his 40s, used to be the main shareholder of Eastport Petrochemical (Singapore).

He first met Ms Wang on a flight in 2011.

Even before they began a romantic relationship in February 2014, Mr Xu plied her with gifts and benefits. This included the use of his ATM card linked to his bank account where his salary of $20,000 a month was deposited.

TRANSFER

Between December 2013 and February 2014, Mr Xu transferred $4.2 million to Ms Wang to buy the apartment and the car, both of which were registered in her name.

He also got a job for her at his company, which paid her $10,000 a month between April 2014 and June 2016, although she did not do any substantive work.

Around February 2014, she discovered that he had had another relationship, but he assured her he was no longer seeing the other woman, who worked at his company.

In his lawsuit, Mr Xu, who was represented by Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng, claimed he had bought the apartment to improve Ms Wang's living conditions as he regarded her as a sibling.

Mr Xu said he bought the car as he needed to meet customers in Singapore. He said the apartment and the car were registered in her name to make it convenient for her to handle administrative matters concerning the assets.

Justice Lim said Mr Xu's explanations were unconvincing.

However, the judge accepted his explanation that he had transferred US$2.6 million to Ms Wang as part of a plan to insulate Eastport from his troubles in China.

There was also evidence to support Mr Xu's explanation that he had transferred US$7 million to Ms Wang to keep funds out of reach of potential creditors and to enable him to restart his business.

COURT & CRIME