SINGAPORE - A former housing agent who misappropriated more than half a million dollars entrusted to him by an elderly client was jailed for five years and three months yesterday.
Retiree Chan Kee Kok, 89 - a wheelchair user with failing eyesight - had hired Terence Yan Khek Yong to help him sell his flat and buy a new one, and even let Yan write cheques for him. But the 30-year-old cashed them and blew the money at a casino.
After a 15-day trial, Yan was convicted of misappropriating five cheques worth $559,200 which were meant to pay for Mr Chan's new apartment at Eastpoint Green in Simei Street 3 in 2010.
He was also convicted of instigating Mr Chan's Indonesian maid to lie to police that the retiree had told Yan to spend the money from a POSB cheque of $200,000 so that Yan would not be investigated for criminal breach of trust (CBT).
He is out on $130,000 bail, pending a High Court appeal.
The court heard how Mr Chan engaged Yan to sell his flat in Simei and buy a smaller one for him and his intellectually impaired daughter to live in.
Mr Chan, who was blind in one eye and had poor vision in the other, trusted Yan to handle the sale and purchase transactions.
Before his death in February last year, he gave two statements to the police to the effect that he had entrusted five cheques to Yan to buy the apartment.
Yan claimed the cheques were gifts from Mr Chan for extra services he had provided.
The offences came to light when Yan tried to cash the $200,000 cheque at the POSB Pasir Ris branch in October 2010.
District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt said: "The accused did next to nothing to warrant a reward or gift of more than half a million dollars from Mr Chan. The accused was already grossly overpaid when he shamelessly asked for a 7 per cent commission from Mr Chan for his unremarkable services as a housing agent."
Bank officers visited Mr Chan to find out if he had issued the cheque. The police were then called.
Yan could have been jailed for life and fined on each charge of CBT as an agent.
This article was first published on September 4, 2014.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.