A bizarre case involving $5 million in a British Virgin Islands bank account, a "sham" divorce, a Las Vegas wedding and a rich husband may finally come to a head.

At the heart of the civil dispute in the High Court at Auckland are two women who both claim rights to the estate of the late Chinese businessman Jun Xie.

He died without leaving a will, but did leave behind $5 million in cash, property and assets in New Zealand and China.

However, after a hearing last October, Justice Matthew Palmer has now ordered a lawyer be named temporary administrator of the estate and the cash transferred to a High Court trust account.


A new three-week hearing, the judge said, has been scheduled for July to determine whether Jie Deng or Huifang Ye, or neither of them, was Xie's lawful or de facto spouse.

Deng was the first to marry Xie.

She did so in China during 1985 and the pair later had a daughter before moving to New Zealand during 1995.

But they divorced in 1998.

Then in March 2013, Ye seemingly married Xie in Las Vegas - a marriage Deng says is invalid.

Only months after the Vegas wedding, on August 10, Xie died in a car crash in China.

Some of his estate was in New Zealand, including 65 per cent of the shares in Sincessta International Corporation (NZ) Ltd (Sincessta NZ), a holding company for a Chinese cotton manufacturing company.

He also had 70 per cent of the shares in the British Virgin Islands-based company Sincessta International Corporation Limited (Sincessta BVI). Deng held the other 30 per cent of the Sincessta BVI shares.


Other parts of the estate were in China, including several properties.

After Xie's death, Ye was first appointed administrator of the estate in New Zealand, but Deng applied to the High Court to recall Ye's appointment as she claimed her divorce was really a sham and she had continued a relationship with Xie.

She also argued the New Zealand divorce was not recognised in Chinese law and therefore Xie did not have the legal capacity to marry Ye in Las Vegas.

The New Zealand Family Court had dissolved Deng and Xie's marriage in July 1998 but that was not registered in China nor recognised by a Chinese court.

Court documents show Deng said the divorce was a "business tactic" and the non-registration in China was intentional to continue a de facto relationship with Xie in New Zealand.

It was only a year later, however, that Xie first met Ye.

They began working together at Sincessta in 2001, before Ye said they formed a de facto relationship in China during 2004.

She said there was a wedding in China during 2011 before they had a son, who was born in the United States in 2013, court documents show.

The pair then enjoyed their Las Vegas wedding in March 2013.

Later that year after Xie's death, in November 2013, Ye and her son applied to a Chinese court claiming Xie's property, saying her son was the legal successor.

But the court allowed Deng and her daughter to intervene and oppose the claim on the basis that Deng was the only legitimate spouse.

Court documents also show that sometime after Xie's death, Deng transferred Xie's shareholding in Sincessta BVI into her own name and transferred the signing authority with the British Virgin Island's bank from Xie's name to her own.

The account had more than $5 million in it, but Ye alleged Xie's signature on the share transfer authorisation form may have been fabricated.

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

But according to Deng, Ye had unlawfully taken $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.

A two-week trial in the High Court had been set down last May, before the October hearing which formed the basis of Justice Palmer's judgment.