Tycoon's wife gets decree nisi in London court

LONDON • A court in London has granted a preliminary divorce decree to former Miss Malaysia Pauline Chai, which entails she will be entitled to half her billionaire husband Khoo Kay Peng's RM2.8 billion (S$918 million) fortune once the marriage is officially dissolved.

Judge Stephen Alderson, who heard the case, granted the decree nisi at the Central Family Court in London on Thursday, British news site MailOnline reported. A decree nisi does not terminate the marriage, and six weeks have to pass before an application can be made for a decree absolute, the legal document which officially ends a marriage.

Neither Ms Chai nor Tan Sri Khoo was at the hearing, although Ms Chai was represented by lawyers, Daily Mail reported.

The couple have been in dispute over the divorce for almost three years and have spent a total of RM33.1 million in legal fees alone.

The couple have been in dispute over the divorce for almost three years and have spent a total of RM33.1 million in legal fees alone.

Tan Sri Khoo, 77, owns 44 per cent of home furnishings and women's wear company Laura Ashley. He and Ms Chai, 68, cannot agree on whether decisions about who should get what in the divorce settlement ought to be made in the British or Malaysian courts.

Ms Chai had requested for her case to be heard in Britain as the matrimonial settlement would be much smaller if the case was heard in Malaysia. They have five children together.

Malaysia's Court of Appeal, which initially decided the case could not be heard in Britain, later allowed it. Tan Sri Khoo and Ms Chai were married for 43 years when she filed for a divorce in Britain on Feb 14, 2013.

Ms Ayesha Vardag, president of law firm Vardags, was quoted by Daily Mail as saying: "Today's decree nisi is the end of a long battle for our client. It confirms she can have her divorce in England. It could have happened long ago had Dr Khoo not fought the jurisdiction of the English courts for nearly three years over two hemispheres."

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2016, with the headline 'Tycoon's wife gets decree nisi in London court'. Print Edition | Subscribe