$9.4 million lotto winner left with nothing after wife and lover leave him

By Charlotte Mortlock

Mr Phuona won $9 million and shared his winnings with his wife and also his lover. Photo / 123RF
Mr Phuona won $9 million and shared his winnings with his wife and also his lover. Photo / 123RF

A man who won A$9 million ($9.4m) on lotto has been left with virtually none of his winnings after he celebrated by marrying his partner and starting an affair.

The man, given the name "Mr Phuona" by the Family Court, is suing to try to win back some of the assets of his former lover and his ex-stepdaughter after his love triangle collapsed, Daily Mail reports.

When Mr Phuona won lotto in the early 2000s, he was living with "Ms B" but had started a relationship with another woman, Ms Nghiem.

According to court documents, Mr Phuona, now 64, celebrated his win by marrying Ms B - and by consummating his relationship with Ms Nghiem.

A month later, the women found out about each other and Ms B separated from Mr Phuona.

Ms Nghiem and Mr Phuona began living with each other in September 2002, and three months later Mr Phuona officially divorced Ms B.

The following year, Ms Nghiem and Mr Phuona had a child together, and another a few years later.

Mr Phuona gave $3 million of his winnings to Ms B, $1.67 to his sister, $506,363 to Ms Nghiem, and kept the rest for himself.

After the birth of their second child in 2005, Ms Nghiem and Mr Phuona's relationship began to crumble and they eventually stopped living together in 2012.

Between the couple's break up and the time when Mr Phuona moved out, there were significant changes in family law.

The Family Law Act in 2009 enabled the courts to make property judgments after the break down of de facto relationships.

Court documents state that by 2013 all or almost all of Mr Phuona's winnings had been dissipated, and he has little or no property available to him.

Mr Phuona launched legal action against Ms Nghiem and her daughter from a previous partner, Ms Luc, who is now an adult.

Mr Phuona and Ms Ngheim had purchased property together in December 2001, and Mr Phuona was now asking the court for a property adjustment.

Court documents state: "In addition, he has joined Ms Luc as a party to the proceedings and he seeks in various ways pursuant to the Act or by way of accrued jurisdiction to claw back real property acquired by Ms Luc pursuant to a trust created in 2001."

Justice Robert Benjamin dismissed Phuona's case, finding that while they shared the same house until 2012, they lived separate lives from 2005, when the Family Law Act had not yet been updated.

- Daily Mail

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