Hong Kong richest woman, Nina Wang, entered the last lap in her long fight to keep her husband's wealth Monday as her lawyer told the city's top court that a handwritten will leaving her his fortune could not be forged.

A lower court ruled in 2002 that the 1990 will, which named her as sole beneficiary of Teddy Wang's billion-dollar estate, was forged and awarded the fortune to his father, Wang Din-shin.

Nina did not appear in court to appeal that decision.

But her lawyer Geoffrey Vos told Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal that the handwritten will, which contains four purported signatures of Teddy Wang, could only be genuine.

Vos said the signatures bore inconsistencies, or "matching variations," which were found in accepted samples of the signature of the wealthy private property developer.

While a fraudster could practice and replicate someone's signature, it would be impossible for the fraudster to reproduce these "matching variations," Vos argued on the first day of the appeal, that is expected to last for 10 days.

"There were many matching variations in the (four) questioned signatures themselves ... the same matching variations are found in samples of Wang's accepted signatures."

"We submit that it is utterly impossible that a forger could have done it," he told the territory's highest court.

The actual size of Teddy's wealth is not known, but Nina could lose much of her fortune, which Forbes magazine estimated at US$2.3 billion (HK$18 billion) in 2004, if she has to give up his estate.

Teddy Wang was a wealthy private property developer when he was kidnapped in 1990 and never seen again. His wife and father have been battling for his estate since he was declared legally dead in 1999.

During the acrimonious court battle in 2002, Nina's lawyer described the couple's years together as like a fairytale and said they remained madly in love into middle age.

But Teddy's father told the court a far different story. The 90-year-old man told the court the marriage turned sour in 1968 when Teddy accused Nina of having an affair.


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