A former property agent took the stand for the first time on Thursday to answer charges that he misappropriated more than half a million dollars from a retiree who had engaged him to sell and buy property.
The retiree, Mr Chan Kee Kok, 89, was a wheelchair user and blind in one eye with significantly poor vision in the other. Before his death in February last year, he was living with his intellectually-impaired daughter and an Indonesian maid.
Terence Yan Khek Yong, 29, is alleged to have committed criminal breach of trust as an agent of five cheques totalling $559,200 entrusted to him by Mr Chan in 2010 to buy a condominium, Eastpoint Green, in Simei.
He is also being tried for abetting Mr Chan's domestic worker Sarina on Dec 6 that year to lie to the police that her employer had told her to spend a POSB cheque for $200,000, causing the police not to investigate him for criminal breach of trust.
Yan, who joined HSR International Realtors in 2009, said in mid-2010, he was asked by Mr Chan to sell his property at Modena at Simei Street 4 and to get a smaller unit nearby for him and his daughter to live in.
He managed to secure an apartment in Eastpoint Green for Mr Chan, who paid $740,000 cash for it. Mr Chan's flat, which Yan said was "dark and smelly'' and in poor condition, was eventually sold to his neighbour for $1.05 million,
The prosecution has said in its opening that Mr Chan was led to believe that the cheque payments - from $59,200 to $150,000 - were needed for the purchase of the Eastpoint Green apartment.
None of the cheques was written by Mr Chan himself. The payee in all the cheques was Yan. The first cheque of $59,200 was written by Ms Sarina and the rest, by Yan himself.
He tried to encash a $200,000 cheque at POSB White Sands branch in October when he could not. Officers from the bank visited Mr Chan two days later, on Oct 14, and a police report was lodged for an alleged cheating case involving Mr Chan as the victim.
In his defence, Yan said he had a very close relationship with Mr Chan and addressed him as "Ah Kong'. He would buy him food at times and give the father-daughter pair a ride to Changi General Hospital for their medical appointments as he lived nearby.
He said Mr Chan was very happy with his service and told him that he would reward him.
He said from mid-2010 to around October that year, he had visited Mr Chan 60 times.
"We are like friends.. more than friends because Ah Kong treated people quite good. We can talk about everything, chit chat. He told me about his family members and personal things also,'' he said.
He said the first cheque payment of $59,200 was for helping Mr Chan to move house and renovate the Eastpoint Green apartment as well as his commission.
He said when Mr Chan gave him a $100,000 cheque on Oct 4 that year for his help, he rejected it at first, but Mr Chan said it was for him. He told the court he was surprised and very happy.
Mr Chan gave him another similar cheque the next day when he went to his home to help him pack.
Asked by his lawyer Looi Teck Kheong why Mr Chan gave him that cheque, Yan said: "From my understanding, this is a gift from Ah Kong. He said: 'Terence, this is for you for helping me'''.
Asked if Mr Chan say what sort of help he rendered that made him give him those cheques, Yan said he believed it was for overseeing the house moving and renovation and probably the flat that he found for him. The trial continues.