- Zhao family denies allegations
A court battle has erupted over the estate of wealthy businessman Gang Yuan, whose dismembered body was found last month at an exclusive West Vancouver address.
Yuan's brother, Qiang Yuan, has obtained a B.C. Supreme Court order giving him the go-ahead on behalf of Yuan's estate to sue Li Zhao, the man charged with second-degree murder in Yuan's death.
In an unusual press conference, the family's lawyer claimed Yuan was supporting Zhao and his wife, who was allegedly seen driving the victim's Bentley within days of his death.
"So the question arises, why would someone kill his benefactor?" said Chris Johnson, who represents the victim's brother and speculated about the motivation for the murder.
"With the known facts, there is really only one conclusion: Mr. Zhao did this for financial reasons. He thought that he could get a free house. Not just any house, but a very valuable house in West Vancouver."
Zhao was arrested after the discovery of Yuan's dismembered body in the British Properties on May 2.
Police were called to the house following reports of a violent confrontation. Johnson said police advised the family that Yuan's body was cut into more than 100 pieces.
In addition to second-degree murder, Zhao is also charged with interfering with a dead body. He has a bail hearing next week.
Yuan came to Canada in 2007 and made his money through investments in Saskatchewan real estate and agriculture; Yuan's cousin, Xiao Mei Li, is married to Zhao.
"Because they were struggling, Mr. Yuan took them in," Johnson said. "He gave them employment and ultimately came to support them and their daughter, Yi Ming Zhao."
According to an affidavit filed by Yuan's brother, Qiang Yuan, the businessman was the real owner of the home where his body was found, but the property was placed in the names of Zhao and Li.
Qiang Yuan claims his brother supported the couple and paid for all expenses related to the house.
Ultra Rich Asian Girls
Johnson said the accused killer's daughter also starred in a television show called Ultra Rich Asian Girls, in which she pretended to own his Rolls-Royce and another of his houses.
Yuan's brother filed a petition to stop Zhao or Li from accessing assets the family claims belonged to Yuan.
His affidavit notes that Zhao plans to post bail.
"I am concerned that he or my cousin will offer the residence as security for his release," Qiang Yuan wrote.
"It would be most troubling if Li Zhao were permitted to use an asset bought and paid for by my brother to secure his release on a charge of murdering him."
Last week, the court issued an order appointing Qiang Yuan and another individual as administrators of his estate.
The order gives them the right to inquire and receive information about Yuan's bank accounts. It also allows them to start an action against Zhao and Li for unjust enrichment.
Zhao's lawyer had no comment on the lawsuit. On Thursday, the lawyer said his clients deny all the allegations made about them in Wednesday's press conference.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.