$1.13m a gift from widow, says ex-tour guide

$1.13m a gift from widow, says ex-tour guide

SINGAPORE - In a fresh twist to the fight for control of a widow's wealth, former China tour guide Yang Yin insists that the $1.13 million sitting in four of his OCBC bank accounts was a gift from Chung Khin Chun.

Previously, he had said that he had been holding on to the money on the 87-year-old's behalf.

The 40-year-old Yang is also arguing that dementia-stricken Madam Chung does not have the mental capacity to change a will, in which she had left everything to him, to one in which most of her wealth will go to charity.

Her assets, including a $30-million bungalow in Gerald Crescent, are believed to be worth $40 million.

In another development, he is urging the courts to lift a freeze on his assets after accusing Madam Chung's niece, Hedy Mok, of not sticking to a deal in which he will be allowed to withdraw a monthly sum of $12,000.

Madam Mok, a 61-year-old owner of a tour agency, last August accused the former tour guide of manipulating her aunt into handing over control of her assets.

Madam Chung met Yang in 2008 when he was her tour guide during a trip to China. The next year, he moved into her bungalow. In 2010, the widow made a will leaving Yang all her assets, including her bungalow. Two years later, she granted him Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). Yang says that the childless widow treated him like a grandson.

Madam Mok has since sued the former tour guide for damages and for allegedly breaching his duties under the LPA, which was revoked in November.

In August, the High Court ordered a freeze on Yang's assets, except for a monthly allowance of $12,000 to be released for his personal and legal expenses.

However, the former tour guide's lawyer, Joseph Liow, told reporters before a pre-trial conference yesterday that his client has not been able to withdraw money from his bank accounts.

"They have not honoured it," he said, adding that a court application was filed on Monday asking for the freeze to be lifted or Yang to be allowed to withdraw the money.

In court documents, the former tour guide - who also faced more than 300 criminal charges, including two for allegedly misappropriating $1.1 million from Madam Chung - said he had sent letters to Madam Mok's lawyers in September and October asking to withdraw funds. But he was told that he was not allowed to do so.

"During this time, all my ordinary living expenses and expenses for legal advice and representation have been financed by personal loans that I managed to obtain from my family and friends in China," he said, adding that such avenues have now been "exhausted".

In separate court papers, Yang, who has been in remand since Oct 31, also said that the $1.13 million in cash that he has in the OCBC bank accounts belonged to him, as it was a gift from Madam Chung in December 2010.

As to why he previously said in court papers that he was merely holding on to the money, he said: "I am not proficient in English."

kcarolyn@sph.com.sg

tohyc@sph.com.sg


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