Former wife of Laura Ashley boss seeks equal share of assets

Pauline Chai, the former beauty queen and wife of Laura Ashley boss Dr Khoo Kay Peng, has told a judge in the High Court that she is seeking a half share of the assets of their marriage, which she claims are worth at least £205 million.

Ms Chai and Dr Khoo, both Malaysian nationals, were married in 1970. They have five adult children, the youngest of whom has a disability and lives with Ms Chai, who has been habitually resident in England since 2012.

In 2013 Ms Chai issued divorce proceedings in this country. There then followed heavily contested court proceedings, with Dr Khoo seeking to have the case heard in Malaysia, where it is thought that Ms Chai would receive a less generous divorce settlement. That dispute was eventually concluded in December 2015, when the Court of Appeal confirmed that the case should go ahead in this country.

The hearing of Ms Chai’s financial claim began before Mr Justice Bodey last Thursday. She told Mr Justice Bodey that whilst Dr Khoo had been the breadwinner during the marriage, she had made an equal contribution by staying at home and looking after the children, a task that she described as “daunting”. She therefore considered that she should be entitled to an equal share of the assets, amounting to more than £100 million.

Dr Khoo, however, will argue that she should only receive about £9 million.

The hearing is expected to last several weeks.

Image by Keith Laverack, licensed under CC BY 2.0.