A wealthy couple who accused a nephew of stealing their £4 million house has won him in court.
Self-made millionaire, Michael Lee, 79, and wife King-Su Huang, 73, sued Cheng-Jen Ku, 40, after he claimed to own the property in Kensington’s Queen’s Gate Place Mews.
The pair bought the building in Ku’s name in 2004 for ‘privacy concerns’ because they didn’t want the depth of their fortune to become public knowledge, according to Central London County Court.
Ku initially lived there, but then claimed he was the genuine owner and that his affluent auntie had ‘given’ it to him in accordance with Taiwanese tradition.
However, he later informed Judge Alan Johns that he had left the multimillion-pound mansion “because his auntie and uncle were too strict.”
Alan Johns, the judge, stated that Ku’s behavior ‘didn’t look like the behaviors of an owner’ before giving possession of the house to his aunt and her husband.
The judge determined that Mr Ku must pay his auntie and uncle’s lawyers’ fees of around £115,000. He will also be responsible for his own legal bills, which were projected at £35,000 prior to the trial.
Mr Lee, who acquired his fortune through a £13 million Essex electronics company, met his wife while working in Taiwan and afterwards invested his money in real estate.
He and his wife opted to acquire the home in Queen’s Gate Place Mews, which is just a short walk from the Royal Albert Hall and the Natural History Museum.
Mr Ku, a ‘close’ nephew whom Mr Lee regarded as a ‘lovely little kid,’ had lived with the couple in their prior Essex home after migrating to the UK from Taiwan.
Lee told the judge that his wife gave their nephew £1.57 million to buy the house in his name, adding that they wanted to place it in Mr Ku’s name for ‘privacy’ reasons and to prevent the property from being used as collateral for business loans.
The property is now worth more than twice the price that was paid, with lawyers valuing it at up to £4 million.
Mr Ku later went on to claim the house was his because it was ‘gifted’ to him by his aunt, a claim blasted as ‘piffle’ by Mr Lee in evidence during the trial.
Mr Lee told the judge that his nephew had gone from being ‘a cute little kid’ nicknamed ‘Trouble’ to become ‘mean and nasty’ in adulthood.
‘He is trying to steal our house because he has turned out to be a devious little sod and that’s why we’re in court,’ he said from the witness box.
In his ruling, the judge said: ‘I’ve reached a clear conclusion that the intention in this case was for the mews house to be owned by Mrs Huang. Indeed, there was an express agreement to that effect.
‘There was an express discussion over the telephone before the house was purchased in which she said she wanted to buy a property but use Mr Ku’s name. He agreed.
‘As understood by the parties, it was an arrangement not that the mews house was to be Mr Ku’s but was to be Mrs Huang’s and just to be held in Mr Ku’s name.’
He added: ‘I make a declaration that the mews house is held in trust by Mr Ku for Mrs Huang.’