Former China tour guide Yang Yin will no longer have any say over the welfare or financial assets of a wealthy widow until her mental state is determined, a court ruled yesterday.
And in a further twist, it was revealed that Mr Yang's wife is also being sued by the widow's niece, Madam Hedy Mok.
Madam Mok has sued Mr Yang for allegedly manipulating her aunt, 87-year-old Chung Khin Chun, into granting him a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in 2012.
On Sept 23, a lawyer for Madam Chung announced that she had applied to revoke the LPA. The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), which runs the LPA scheme, then went to court to request an independent medical assessment of Madam Chung.
It also applied to temporarily suspend Mr Yang's powers under the LPA, and those of Madam Mok as Madam Chung's deputy.
Yesterday, in a closed-door hearing, the Family Court decided to temporarily suspend the LPA that gave Mr Yang control of Madam Chung's assets. But it allowed Madam Mok to stay in her role for now. Madam Mok, however, must inform the OPG whenever she makes a decision on legal matters concerning her aunt.
"I am happy with this outcome as this will allow me to press on with legal proceedings meant to preserve and protect my aunt's interests and her assets," Madam Mok told The Straits Times.
Mr Yang's lawyer, Mr Joseph Liow, said his client did not object to the ruling and "supports OPG's application". The court will hear the request for a medical assessment of Madam Chung, who was diagnosed with dementia this year, in the next seven to 10 days.
The saga has generated considerable public interest since news of it broke early last month.
Mr Yang met Madam Chung in 2008 while acting as her personal tour guide during a China trip. The following year, he moved into her $30 million Gerald Crescent bungalow because she wanted him as a "grandson", he said.
In 2011, the 40-year-old became a Singapore permanent resident (PR) and, last year, his wife and two young children also moved into the bungalow.
When Madam Mok found out about the LPA, she took Madam Chung to live with her, evicted the Yang family and started a series of court proceedings, which included suing Mr Yang for allegedly breaching his legal duties.
Yesterday, Madam Mok, a 60-year-old travel agency owner, said her lawyers have applied to make his wife Weng Yandan, who has returned to China, a second defendant. They are asking to freeze her assets as well, having already done so in Mr Yang's case.
On Sept 17, Mr Yang was arrested for suspected criminal breach of trust. In addition, his PR status and employment pass are being probed by the authorities.