Yang Yin looked a relieved man after managing to secure bail of $150,000 yesterday despite the prosecution's insistence that he was a flight risk. But his legal battles are far from over as it emerged that the authorities are investigating a suspicious transfer of $500,000 from the account of 87-year-old widow Chung Khin Chun to his father in China.
It is not clear what the transfer was for. Yang, 40, a tour guide from China, is involved in a legal tussle for control over the widow's wealth, and has been accused of manipulating her.
He also faces 331 criminal charges for falsifying about $450,000 worth of receipts that were supposedly paid to his company, Young Music and Dance Studio, mostly for music lessons.
It was through this firm that he received an employment pass and then permanent residency.
These had allowed him to live with Madam Chung in her $30 million bungalow in Gerald Crescent since 2009.
He had been in remand since Oct 31, but District Judge Eddy Tham said that Yang could not be denied bail just because he is a foreigner with "no roots" here. That would mean all foreigners cannot get bail, he explained.
The judge also dismissed Deputy Chief Prosecutor Tan Ken Hwee's argument that the punishment Yang faces, if found guilty, are of such a severe extent that it would push him into absconding. Typically, those guilty of submitting false documents get a few months in jail, he said.
But even after the judge allowed bail, the prosecutor and Yang's lawyer, Mr Wee Pan Lee, continued to spar over how much it should be.
Mr Tan urged the court to put it at $800,000 with four sureties. He pointed out a recent case in which $600,000 bail and the withholding of a passport were not enough to prevent the accused, facing similar charges, from running away. It is understood that a high bail amount is not unusual for cases involving foreigners.
The prosecutor also brought up the $500,000, arguing that the money meant Yang had the means to post higher bail. Mr Wee, however, said there is no evidence to show that the money still remains. He added that Yang is simply accused of faking receipts, and does not "stand to enjoy" any of the proceeds.
Bail was set at $150,000, but the judge also ordered Yang, who is set to appear in court again on Dec 4, to surrender his passport and report to the police at 10am every day. He will leave Changi Prison, where he is in remand, on Monday at the earliest after bail is paid, said his lawyer.
The Attorney-General's Chambers, however, revealed later that it would be making an application to the High Court with regard to the bail decision but did not give details.
Madam Chung's niece, Madam Hedy Mok, who was in court yesterday with her lawyer, told reporters that she was "quite disappointed".
She has begun legal proceedings against Yang, including one to claim damages for breaching his duty to her aunt. She alleges that Yang, who first met Madam Chung in 2008, had manipulated the elderly woman into handing him control of her assets worth $40 million.
This article was first published on November 7, 2014.
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