Three weeks after abruptly deciding to plead guilty to two charges of misappropriating $1.1 million belonging to a widow, former China tour guide Yang Yin performed another U-turn yesterday and said he was innocent.
Yang's lawyer Irving Choh, at a court hearing earlier this month, said: "My client, in an unusual twist, has decided to plead guilty to two charges."
But yesterday, Mr Choh said: "He has changed his mind."
Asked by Deputy Presiding Judge of the State Courts Jennifer Marie to confirm his decision, Yang, through a Mandarin interpreter, said: "Yes, I confirm what my counsel has said, because we have more evidence, which we have yet to submit."
Yang, 42, is accused of committing criminal breach of trust involving $500,000 on Feb 19, 2010, and involving $600,000 on Jan 18, 2012 - amounts that the prosecution has described as "by no means trivial".
He got to know Madam Chung Khin Chun, 89, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2014, when he was her tour guide in Beijing in 2008. Madam Chung and her late husband Chou Sip King did not have any children.
Yang came to Singapore and moved into Madam Chung's Gerald Crescent bungalow a year after they met. In 2010, Madam Chung made a will in which Yang stood to inherit everything.
However, in April last year, the courts recognised a new statutory will that her niece, Madam Hedy Mok, made on her behalf, that would leave most of her assets to charity.
Madam Mok took out a series of civil actions in 2014, saying her aunt had been unduly influenced by Yang. She also sued him for manipulating the widow to control her assets, worth an estimated $40 million.
Yang was arrested in September 2014 and charged a month later with a slew of crimes - mostly related to falsifying receipts made to his company, Young Dance and Music Studio, so he could stay in Singapore.
He was also charged with cheating, immigration crimes, and breaking Companies Act laws.
He has been in remand since October 2014.
On May 31, he pleaded guilty to 120 out of 347 charges. The rest will be taken into account when he is sentenced, after the ongoing trial for his most serious charges is over.
On the sixth day of the trial yesterday, DSP Jane Lim Miaoqing took the stand again as the prosecution's 11th and final witness.
The investigator with the Commercial Affairs Department said Yang lied twice during recorded interviews in October 2014.
Yang had first said he withdrew $600,000 from Madam Chung's bank account in January 2012 to buy five paintings with the money.
Later, he said: "Actually, my grandmother (Madam Chung) asked me to take out $600,000. I passed her the cash after I withdrew it."
However, he later did a U-turn. "After thinking about it, I realised that I did buy the five paintings and I do not know why I told you otherwise just now."
Mr Choh told the court that Madam Chung and Yang had agreed not to let anyone find out she had passed him the money "because she knew the transfer of monies from her to him would cause jealousy and gossip".
But the deputy superintendent disagreed with Mr Choh's assertion. She also disagreed that the money was a gift from Madam Chung to Yang.
The trial continues on Tuesday next week, and Yang is expected to take the stand.