Wife Must Pay $63M Debt She Signed "Out of Love" Without Reading
She claims it was “her affectionate duty as a wife.”
A British woman who guaranteed a $63 million loan for her husband's business without reading the details must repay the debt, a London court ruled this week. Xiaomin Zhang, who lives in London, signed only the final page of the agreement, which was faxed to her while she was on vacation, the UK Times reported. Zhang, 51, told the High Court in London she signed at the behest of her husband, Zhenxin, "out of love and as part of her affectionate duty as a wife." Read on to find out what happened next.
As it turned out, Zhang guaranteed a $63 million loan from Eternity Sky Investment to her husband's Hong Kong-listed company, Chong Sing Fintech Holdings Group, in 2016.
The company failed to redeem the loan bonds in May 2019 and defaulted. It was suspended from the stock market after major fraud was discovered at a subsidiary. In September 2019, Zhang's husband died at 48 from multiple organ failure and alcohol dependence at a London hospital.
Zhang was sent only the final page of an 18-page loan agreement by her personal assistant, who said it needed to be signed as "the listed companies is issuing bonds, requires the majority shareholder couple to provide guarantee."
At a hearing in Hong Kong last year, lawyers said Zhang "always signed whatever her husband or his associates asked her to sign, as she trusted him and it was his responsibility to look after the business and to provide for the family."
The judge said he accepted the wife's testimony that "she acted predominantly out of love." He added: "Many marriages could be assessed as including some transactional features . . . real life being what it is. That does not mean that their mainspring is not love, but money."
The judge ruled that Zhang was not protected by UK consumer law and is liable for the debt.
"If she is a billionaire then this was foolish but she can afford it, if it's all she has and bankrupts her then her husband was a nasty piece of work," one commenter said on the Times' site.
"Courts are not for getting litigants out of bad deals," another wrote.
"A quick Google tells you she's worth in a region of 650 million. I suspect she might be fine," wrote another.