Stanley Ho's fourth wife Angela Leong clears the air on his mysterious 17th son

Macau tycoon Stanley Ho (centre), his daughter Pansy Ho and his wife Angela Leong (right) in Hong Kong, on May 21, 2009. PHOTO: REUTERS

Late casino tycoon Stanley Ho's fourth wife Angela Leong has come out for the first time to clarify the situation over his mysterious 17th son - who was widely believed to have died in childhood.

In a Chinese-language statement issued last Saturday (June 27), she "solemnly introduced" Ho Yau-bong, her son with Stanley Ho.

Ho Yau-bong has never appeared in public.

Leong, 59, is the managing director of SJM Holdings, the company which owns many of Macau's casinos. She said this was her first and last time clarifying the issue.

"Because of health reasons, the family has never released any information on him. But due to Stanley Ho's passing, Yau-bong's name will be carved on his father's tombstone in accordance with tradition."

She did not specify Ho Yau-bong's age or his issues.

Stanley Ho died at the age of 98 in May.

Even a statement from the Ho family after his death did not include the name of Ho Yau-bong.

Mystery has shrouded this son, who was rumoured to be named Ho Yau-kai. Various explanations of why he was never seen with the family surfaced - the most common and widely believed story was that he had died in childhood.

Leong said in her statement: "As a mother, I was anxious that rumours would negatively affect Yau-bong's mood. It's hard to be an ordinary person in such a family but as a mother, I hoped that under our protection, he could feel the safety and kindness of the outside world."

She added that Ho Yau-bong was never a secret among the extended Ho family and said that "he needs to be protected, not disturbed".

This means that the gambling tycoon has 15 surviving children - five of them by Leong.

Two of his children by his first wife Clementina Leitao - Robert and Jane Ho - had died before their father, in 1981 and 2014 respectively.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.