A pair of West Vancouver properties with a combined value of more than $16 million are at the centre of a legal dispute between a daughter and her father, who is a businessman and a Chinese politician.
Li Xiaoqi is suing her father, Li Jianhua, the former chairman of a major Chinese wood products manufacturer, claiming she is the true beneficial owner of two luxury properties in West Vancouver that were registered in her parents’ name in December 2011.
Li Xiaoqi filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on July 18, naming her father, personally and as the administrator of the estate of her mother, Xian Liu, who died in the city of Meizhou in the Chinese province of Guangdong in June 2013.
Li claims that at the time of her mother’s death, her parents were the registered owners of 2783 and 2785 Highview Place in West Vancouver, near the road to Cypress Bowl. The land and buildings on both lots are worth more than $16.1 million, according to the BC Assessment Authority.
Li claims she contributed all or “most of the purchase monies” for the properties, though the titles to the lots were registered to her mother and father “as tenants in common,” according to the claim.
“The registration of the Highview Place properties into the names of Xian Liu and Mr. Li was made for no consideration, and was not intended to be a gift from the plaintiff to her parents,” the claim states. “At all material times, it was the intention of the plaintiff that she would remain the sole beneficial owner of the Highview Place properties, and that her parents would hold the properties in trust for her.”
Li also makes an alternative claim – under a legal device known as alternative pleading, a party to a court action can propose a different, even contradictory version of events if the first claim is found to be insufficiently supported by evidence – that they agreed their interests in the properties would reflect their financial contributions to the purchases.
She claims that her father transferred a 50% stake in 2783 Highview to her, but in March 2014 transferred her mother’s share of the properties into his own name as administrator of her estate.
“The plaintiff and her husband have paid all or, in the alternative, almost all of the ongoing costs relating to the Highview Place properties such as property taxes, utilities, and property insurance,” the claim states.
Li seeks orders declaring her the beneficial owner of both properties and injunctions restraining her father and the estate from transferring, conveying or assigning their interests in the lands.
Li’s lawyer, Scott Kerwin with Borden Ladner Gervais, did not reply to Business in Vancouver’s requests for comment on the lawsuit.
The notice of civil claim does not list any address or occupation for Li or her father, but Chinese regulatory filings show that Li Jianhua, his wife, Xian Liu, and his daughter, Li Xiaoqi, were major shareholders of GuangDong WeiHua Corp., a manufacturer of wood products with a host of subsidiaries traded on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. Li Jianhua, who was also a member of the Communist Party of China and a deputy in the country’s National People’s Congress, resigned as the company’s chairman in July 2015 for “personal reasons,” according to Reuters.
At the time, China’s stock markets were in free fall, and the Financial Times reported in March that police are “continuing wide-ranging investigations into China’s July 2015 stock market crash.”
The allegations in Li Xiaoqi’s lawsuit have not been tested or proven in court, and Li Jianhua had not filed a response by press time. •