Tycoon hubby sought Canadian citizenship to avoid arrest, ex-beauty queen claims

Pauline Chai told the High Court that Tan Sri Khoo Kay Peng had sought Canadian citizenship in the 1990s to avoid arrest by the Singaporean authorities. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Pauline Chai told the High Court that Tan Sri Khoo Kay Peng had sought Canadian citizenship in the 1990s to avoid arrest by the Singaporean authorities. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 — Billionaire Tan Sri Khoo Kay Peng had asked for a Canadian citizenship in the 1990s to avoid arrest by the Singaporean authorities, which was investigating a company belonging to him in the island state, his wife Pauline Chai told the High Court here today.

Speaking during the couple’s highly publicised domicile trial here, the former Miss Malaysia claimed that Khoo had wanted to apply for permanent residency in Canada because the country had no extradition co-operation with Singapore.

She said the tycoon had then feared for his life after some of his colleagues were arrested by the Singaporean authorities over allegations of mismanagement involving his company, Pan Electric Industries.

“We had first stayed in Australia but when the Pan Electric fiasco (happened), two of his friends got investigated so we moved to Canada because they had no extradition laws there.

“The children all had to be uprooted and we stayed there for 20-odd years,” Chai said.

According to her affidavit that was sighted by Malay Mail Online, Khoo’s lawyers had first advised him and his family to move to Australia, where he, Chai and his children eventually settled down.

But Chai claimed her husband fell into depression, as he was not certain if Australian laws could still prevent him from being extradited to Singapore.

Khoo also felt that moving to Canada would be good for his three children as the education standards there were much better.

“We already knew it well and it doesn’t have an extradition treaty,” the former Miss Malaysia said.

Chai, 68, told the court yesterday the billionaire had made “all” decisions in the family, such as deciding her and their children’s move to Australia in 1980 and subsequently to Canada in 1989 for the children’s education.

She made the same statement today and said she and the children were forced to follow Khoo’s decisions and move as required.

Chai is seeking for the dispute to be decided by the English courts where she stands to gain up to half of Khoo’s estimated £400 million (RM2.1 billion) fortune, possibly the largest divorce settlement in British history.

An English court ruled earlier on October 17 that England was the more appropriate forum for the case to be heard.

Khoo, however, is applying to have the case heard in Malaysia, arguing that they were married in Malaysia where he also maintains his official residence. Khoo would risk losing far less of his wealth if the trial is held here.

Chai argues that UK is her permanent residence and had cited as proof the collection of 1,000 pairs of shoes she kept at their £30 million (RM158 million) Rossway home in Hertfordshire, England, according to British media reports.

Chai is also arguing that their son Alex, who suffers from autism and had been suffering from chronic depression, must stay in the UK as it was the country with the best rehabilitation programme.

The High Court has asked the lawyers from both sides to file in their final submissions by November 19.

Decision is to be delivered on November 28.

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