Feuding over fortune

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FINEX Folio — By J. Albert Gamboa-125


MACAO — This special administrative region (SAR) on the Pearl River Delta is now accessible via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge (HZMB), which opened to vehicular traffic in October 2018.

A 55-kilometer bridge and tunnel system, HZMB is the world’s longest sea crossing. It connects the three main cities of the so-called Greater Bay Area through a series of three cable-stayed bridges, four artificial islands, and an undersea tunnel.

Travel time from the western border of Hong Kong SAR to the mainland China city of Zhuhai has been reduced to 70 minutes while it takes less than an hour to reach Macao SAR, which could only be accessed by ferries and airplanes before HZMB’s advent.

Formerly a colony of the Portuguese Empire, Macao reverted to China in 1999 and liberalized its casino industry that used to operate under a state-licensed monopoly granted in the 1960s to multibillionaire Stanley Ho. Since Macao’s opening to global gambling operators like Sands and Wynn, it has surpassed Las Vegas as the gaming capital of the world.

Turning 98 years old this year, Mr. Ho has 17 children from his four wives. Over the past decade, an epic battle for control of his massive fortune has been raging among some of Mr. Ho’s wives and children.


The family feud flared anew last February when his daughter Pansy figured in a public dispute to take control of flagship firm SJM Holdings in direct conflict with her father’s fourth wife Angela Leong, who serves as SJM’s managing director.

This brings to mind a similar controversy in the Philippines involving the family of Metrobank Group founder George S.K. Ty, who passed away in November 2018. At the center of the feud is Margaret Ty-Cham, described as a “natural” daughter in Mr. Ty’s last will and testament.

A year before his death, the taipan’s lawyers issued a public notice stating that Ms. Ty-Cham “has for some time ceased to have any business relationship” with the Ty family’s group of companies and “has since then suffered a completely estranged relationship” with her father.

Compounding the situation are allegations that the estranged daughter duped several corporate entities and businessmen who have filed criminal and civil cases against her in courts and prosecutors’ offices across Metro Manila.

One of the estafa cases was filed by two businessmen who alleged that she scammed them into buying a Metrobank property in Pasig City for which they issued checks in her name, believing that she can deliver on the deal. They waited more than a year until she finally told them that someone else had already bought the lot. As a result, the Makati Regional Trial Court (RTC) indicted her for estafa.

Another case involved the issuance of an unfunded check as payment for a loan obtained from a private lending company. Subsequently, the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila indicted her for violating Batas Pambansa (BP) 22, otherwise known as the “Bouncing Checks Law.”

San Juan City’s Metropolitan Trial Court likewise handed down two indictments for alleged violations of BP 22. In one of these cases, bouncing checks were issued to a jewelry firm and according to the court records, Ms. Ty-Cham pleaded for more time to pay but failed to do so. She is also facing two civil cases at the Makati RTC for annulment of contract and failure to pay bills for three credit cards.

Ms.Ty-Cham has nobody to blame but herself for the quagmire she finds herself in. Her father must have lost his patience to the point of severing all ties with her. She should learn a lesson from one of Mr. Ho’s sons, Lawrence, who chose to carve out his own empire by partnering with Australia’s Crown Resorts in a joint venture that operates City of Dreams here in Macao and also in Manila.

Those born to wealth either value their privilege or take it for granted. Sad to say, there are some who remain unsatisfied with their status and resort to other means of amassing more money despite having the means to live luxuriously.


J. Albert Gamboa is CFO of the Asian Center for Legal Excellence and Chairman of the FINEX Golden Jubilee Book Project.