Yang Yin saga: Widow and niece find star witness

SINGAPORE - The Yang Yin saga, which had fallen off the radar some months back, has returned to the spotlight, thanks to new evidence produced in court on Tuesday.

Wealthy widow Chung Khin Chun, 89, and her niece, Madam Hedy Mok, 62, have tracked down a star witness - the personal banker who served Madam Chung and former tour guide Yang Yin.

The key witness has given written testimony that the money that Yang claimed was gifted to him by the widow was, in fact, held in trust so that he could look after her.

Madam Mok, a tour agency owner, had sued Yang in the High Court in 2014 for allegedly manipulating her aunt into handing over control of her assets - estimated to be worth $40 million, including a Gerald Drive bungalow.

The new evidence, which was submitted at a closed-door pre-trial conference at the High Court on Tuesday, has prompted the court to set new trial dates so that Yang has time to prepare his rebuttal. The trial was to have started in March.

"The new trial is likely to be held next year," said Madam Mok's lawyer, Mr Peter Doraisamy.

In court papers seen by The Straits Times, the former bank relationship manager described Madam Chung as a "high net worth customer" whom he attended to in 2009 when she visited the bank with Yang.

Madam Chung had updated her bank and investment accounts to make Yang a joint account holder with full access, changes that the bank approved.

"At all times, there was no mention (by Madam Chung) that the first defendant (Yang) could use any of Madam Chung's monies for his own, save for the monthly sum of $5,000 to pay for his personal expenses while he resides in Singapore," said the witness in his affidavit.

"I assisted with the transactions on the understanding that the funds would be used by the first defendant (Yang) to take care of Madam Chung."

His statement contradicts Yang's claim that the monies were gifts from Madam Chung because she treated him as her "grandson".

In his affidavit, the witness said that he also handled the purchase of two endowment plans by Madam Chung and Yang in 2010.

The plans were bought on the agreement between Madam Chung and Yang that the widow's estate is the "ultimate beneficiary" in the event of her death and Yang would hold the policies as trustee, said the witness.

They are now the subject of a High Court tussle between Yang and Madam Mok. In April, the High Court allowed Yang to dip into the policies worth about $98,000 to pay for his legal fees.

Madam Mok has appealed against the High Court decision to release the insurance policies and the appeal will be heard next month. tohyc@sph.com.sg

The saga so far

Former tour guide Yang Yin met Madam Chung Khin Chun, 89, 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".

After setting up a music and dance school, the 42-year-old Chinese national obtained permanent residency in 2011 and brought his wife and two young children to Singapore as dependants. Madam Chung, a retired physiotherapist, has no children. Her husband, Dr Chou Sip King, died in 2007.

Yang was given the right to manage her assets and welfare under the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) that she supposedly gave him in 2011. The LPA was revoked after a court hearing in November 2014. Madam Chung's niece, Madam Hedy Mok, 62, kicked Yang's family out of the bungalow and sued him in 2014, accusing him of siphoning money from the widow. Madam Mok and Yang are also fighting over Madam Chung's will. The Family Court ruled in April to recognise a new will made by Madam Chung leaving most of her assets to charity. This revokes a 2010 will in which Yang was to inherit all her assets; Yang's appeal is set to be heard next month.

Yang has also been charged with falsifying receipts at his firm 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.

This article was first published on January 28, 2016.
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