In a significant victory for wealthy widow Chung Khin Chun, the Court of Appeal yesterday overturned an earlier High Court decision to release about $98,000 for former China tour guide Yang Yin's legal fees.
Hedy Mok - Madam Chung's niece - had last year appealed against the High Court's decision to allow Yang to liquidate two life insurance policies worth about $98,000 to pay his legal fees.
Overturning the decision, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin said the onus was on Yang to show he had no other source of funds for his legal fees. "Nothing has been put forward by the respondent at any time to explain... how the monies were applied," said Chief Justice Menon in his oral judgement.
The crux of the decision came down to a sum of about $4 million that Yang could not account for, said Madam Mok's lawyer Peter Doraisamy in court yesterday.
Bank statements showed, from September 2009 to July 2014, about $5.1 million had been deposited into Yang's account. Around the same period, about $4 million was withdrawn. Mr Doraisamy said he had asked Yang's lawyer to explain the source and whereabouts of the money withdrawn, but did not hear back on the matter.
During the hearing, Joseph Liow, who is representing Yang, said he had not received payments from his client since December 2014, and asked for more time to find out where the monies had gone to. However, the two judges dismissed his request.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Mr Liow said he will be talking to his client to find out what should be done next.
Yesterday's hearing marked the first time the lawyers representing Yang and Madam Mok had sparred in an open court. Since 2014, she had started legal action against Yang for allegedly manipulating her aunt into handing over assets.
Madam Chung, 89, owns a bungalow and her assets are estimated to be worth $40 million. Yang met the retired physiotherapist in 2008 when he acted as her private guide during a China trip. A year later, he moved into her bungalow and claimed the widow wanted him to be her "grandson".
Yang has also been charged with falsifying receipts at his company and misappropriating $1.1 million from the estate of Madam Chung. He has been in remand since Oct 31, 2014 after his bail application was denied.
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