Court throws out man's bid to get back $500k in 'love gifts' to mistress

Mr Kua Tee Beng could not back his claim that he was pressured to give Madam Ye Caiyan lavish gifts, including $295,000 to help buy a condominium unit.
Mr Kua Tee Beng could not back his claim that he was pressured to give Madam Ye Caiyan lavish gifts, including $295,000 to help buy a condominium unit.

The High Court threw out a Singaporean businessman's bid to recover "love gifts" allegedly worth $500,000 from his China-born mistress after their two-year affair soured.

The court found Mr Kua Tee Beng, 67, could not back his claim that he had been pressured to give her lavish gifts including a $40,000 cheque and $295,000 to help buy a condominium unit.

"(Mr Kua)'s evidence that the defendant threatened to tell his current wife about their relationship does not sit comfortably with (his) own behaviour over the course of the parties' two-year relationship," said Judicial Commissioner George Wei. "Given that (Mr Kua) is an independent and successful businessman, I find it hard to believe that he would so easily succumb to the pressure he alleges," he said in judgment grounds released yesterday.

Mr Kua had sued for the return of three Rolex watches worth $50,000 in total, jewellery valued at $30,000 and monthly allowances amounting to $85,000 allegedly given over two years from June 2011 to hairdressing salon owner Ye Caiyan, 41.

He also sought the return of $295,000 he had put down for an $808,000 three-room apartment in Hong San Walk in Choa Chu Kang registered in her name.

Madam Ye, a Fujian native who is now a Singapore citizen, has three school-going children with her Singaporean husband, from whom she is legally separated.

Mr Kua is twice married and has three children, aged between 38 and 44, with his first wife.

He first met Madam Ye in August 2010 through her nephew, a mechanic at his workshop. Some seven months later, they became involved and he started giving her expensive items and money.

Both gave "wildly conflicting" versions of why the relationship ended in 2013, noted the judge.

Mr Kua's lawyer Subbiah Pillai argued she had exerted undue influence to make him give her the various items and that the condo was actually being held by her in trust for him so his children could not fight over it.

But Madam Ye's lawyer Ramalingam Kasi countered the items, given in the "context of a loving and sexually intimate relationship" were non-returnable as they were "voluntarily given".

The judge found Mr Kua did not offer a "single shred of evidence" to show he gave her the jewellery or three Rolex watches, instead of only one Rolex.

Nor could Mr Kua prove he had been threatened by Madam Ye into supporting her for over two years, paying maintenance monthly and holiday bills for her and her children.

Mr Kua claimed that Madam Ye went to his motor workshop office frequently to badger and "create a scene" for payments but no witness was called to support this claim, noted the judge, who was also not convinced Mr Kua wanted to buy the property for himself given his "lack of involvement" in the purchase, among other things.

"I do not find it extraordinary or implausible that (Mr Kua) intended to benefit (Madam Ye) with the entire $295,000. This is perfectly understandable given that the parties were in an intimate relationship at that point."

vijayan@sph.com.sg