Tony Chan didn’t realize, when he took a thirteen-mile limo ride from midtown Manhattan to Teterboro in summer 2008, that it was going to be the priciest trip of his life. The Hong Kong multimillionaire apparently didn’t even realize it for months afterward as the limo driver, Peter Rahhaoui, started using his American Express number to charge a total of $794,986. It was only when a specialist with the bank noticed a strange pattern of charges (all to Rahhaoui’s limo company) that Chan put an end to the driver’s spending spree. The Secret Service says that much of the money went straight into Rahhaoui’s bank account. But yet, Rahhaoui has pleaded not guilty in court.
The driver might have a chance with this plea — despite the brazenness of the alleged crime — because back in Hong Kong, Chan’s own credibility has been called seriously into question. Chan is accused of faking the will of his mistress, late Hong Kong property magnate Nina Wang, who was reportedly worth $4.2 billion at the time of her death in 2007. She was then the richest woman in Asia. A self-proclaimed feng shui master, Chan began his relationship with Wang as a design consultant and soon became her lover — despite a two-decade age difference. He carried on his affair with her even as his own wife became pregnant and bore a son (who Chan named, wonderfully, “Wealthee”). After Wang’s death, Hong Kong authorities allege Chan forged a will naming him the sole heir to her fortune.
Rahhaoui’s lawyers claim that Chan authorized the charges to his AmEx, and that only now is he disputing them because he is in financial trouble overseas. Because everybody knows, if there’s anything that’s worth $800,000, it’s a way out of midtown Manhattan.