A Chinese national's two wives are arguing over more than $5 million of cash, property and assets at the Auckland High Court.

The case spans New Zealand and China with marriages and property in both countries.

Chinese businessman Jun Xie died in 2013 and there are questions around the length and validity of each of his marriages, which the court said may have overlapped.

In a preliminary judgment, Justice Matthew Palmer noted that Jie Deng married Jun Xie in China in 1985.


In the following years, they had a daughter, moved to New Zealand and then separated. Their marriage was officially dissolved in 1998 in New Zealand - but not in China.

In court, Deng said the dissolution was a business tactic, the non-registration was intentional, and she and Xie were still in a relationship.

In 2003, the pair bought a house in Auckland for Deng and her daughter to live in.

In 2009, the house was transferred into a trust. At the time, the Public Trust understood the couple were married.

Xie started dating Huifang Ye in China in 2004.

According to the court, over the following nine years Xie and Ye had a wedding celebration in China, had a son and then got married in Las Vegas in March 2013.

In August 2013, Xie died in a car crash without leaving a will.

The High Court hearing in May will have to determine whom Xie was married to at what time, and consequently, who is entitled to his millions of cash, company shares and properties in New Zealand and China.

In December 2013 an appeal by Ye and her son to take part in the distribution of Xie's assets was dismissed by a Chinese court, which said it was uncertain of her status.

Following Xie's death, Deng transferred his shareholdings, as well as signing authority on his bank account - which at the time had a $5 million balance - into her name.

Ye also alleged Deng took two Chinese properties which Xie had owned.

According to Deng, Ye unlawfully took $500,000 worth of chattels from a home Deng owned in China.

She also claimed Ye had removed directors from Xie's company, added herself and her son as directors and falsified a document between Deng and Xie.

Justice Palmer said questions around Xie's marital status with Ye and Deng would be explored further at trial in May.