Ex-tour guide Yang Yin faces 349 criminal charges

Yang Yin with Madam Chung Khin Chun (left) and Madam Chang Phie Chin in a photo taken in Beijing on Oct 23, 2008, when Yang acted as a private tour guide to the two women on a China trip.
Yang Yin with Madam Chung Khin Chun (left) and Madam Chang Phie Chin in a photo taken in Beijing on Oct 23, 2008, when Yang acted as a private tour guide to the two women on a China trip.PHOTO: HEDY MOK

On Monday, he goes on trial for falsification and criminal charges after being away from public eye for nearly 2 years

He is accused of plotting to steal $40 million in cash and assets from a Singaporean widow.

He has even been charged with duping the Government into granting him an employment pass and permanent residency.

And while his name may have been splashed in the local media for almost two years, former China tour guide Yang Yin has not been seen in public for 19 months.

He has spent that time in Changi Prison, after being arrested by the police in September 2014, charged a month later and denied bail.

On Monday, the 42-year-old makes his first public appearance in almost two years. He goes on trial for falsification and immigration charges.

  • TIMELINE

  • 2006

    Madam Chang Phie Chin introduces Yang Yin to Madam Chung Khin Chun and her husband, Dr Chou Sip King.

    Dr Chou dies in 2007.

    2008

    Yang acts as the private tour guide for Madam Chung and Madam Chang while they are on holiday in Beijing.

    Yang keeps in touch with Madam Chung after the trip.

    2009

    Yang visits Madam Chung and stays in her bungalow. He also sets up his company, Young Music and Dance Studio . In September, Yang fires Madam Chung's driver of 30 years. He obtains an Employment Pass to work in Singapore.

    2010

    Madam Chung makes a will leaving her assets, including the bungalow, to Yang.

    2011

    Madam Chang moves out of the Gerald Crescent bungalow. She had lived there since 2004, after Dr Chou's health deteriorated.

    Yang becomes a Singapore permanent resident.

    2012

    Yang is given Lasting Power of Attorney(LPA) by Madam Chung, giving him control over her welfare and assets.

    In 2013, his wife Weng Yandan and their two children move in to live in the Gerald Crescent bungalow.

    2014

    In April, Madam Chung is diagnosed with dementia.

    The LPA is revoked in November after Madam Chung's niece, Madam Hedy Mok, starts court proceedings against Yang.

    Yang is arrested in September and charged in October. He is later denied bail.

    2015

    Madam Chung's new will is recognised by the Family Justice Courts in April. Her new will leaves most of her assets to charity and nothing for the former tour guide.

    2016

    The High Court dismisses the appeal made by Yang in April this year regarding the new will. The criminal trials are scheduled to take place from May to July.

In total, he faces 349 criminal charges, the most serious of which are for criminal breach of trust.

THE TOUR GUIDE WHO CAME TO STAY

The case involving Madam Chung Khin Chun, 89, and Yang broke in 2014, when the widow's niece, Madam Hedy Mok, started legal action against him for allegedly manipulating her aunt into handing over her assets.

Madam Chung owns a bungalow in Gerald Crescent and her assets are estimated to be worth $40 million. The retired physiotherapist has no children.

Her husband, Dr Chou Sip King, died in 2007.

Yang acted as Madam Chung's private guide during a China trip in 2008. He had been introduced to the widow by Madam Chang Phie Chin, a retired teacher who is a family friend.

A year later, he came to Singapore and moved into her bungalow, claiming that the widow wanted him to be her "grandson".

He set up a company, Young Music and Dance Studio, and obtained an Employment Pass to work in Singapore.

In 2011, he obtained permanent residency and later, moved his wife and two young children here as dependants. The family lived in Madam Chung's bungalow.

Madam Chung was diagnosed with dementia in April 2014. After the diagnosis, Madam Mok applied to be her aunt's guardian under the Mental Capacity Act.

But the tour agency owner found, to her shock, that Yang had already been granted Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in 2012. The legal document gave him full control over all the widow's assets.

Madam Mok moved in on Yang on multiple fronts.

In August 2014, she asked the court to stop Yang from disposing of assets belonging to him and the widow both here and overseas. The Mareva injunction was granted.

She also spirited her aunt out of the bungalow.

On Sept 2, 2014, she confronted Yang's wife, Madam Weng Yandan, and their then two-year-old son and six-year-old daughter, demanding that they leave the house. Yang was overseas at that time.

She called in a locksmith to change the locks.

TWO LEGAL VICTORIES FOR WIDOW AND HER NIECE

To stop Yang from controlling her aunt's assets, Madam Mok applied to the court to have the LPA cancelled.

The Family Justice Courts heard the case in November 2014 and ruled that Madam Chung was mentally capable of deciding who should look after her assets, and allowed her to cancel the LPA.

It was Madam Mok's first legal victory.

She also scored another victory in February this year when the Court of Appeal overturned an earlier High Court decision to release about $98,000 for Yang's legal fees.

The High Court decision was made in April last year.

In overturning the decision, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said that Yang had not explained his finances. The onus was on him to show that he had no other source of funds to pay his legal fees, said the Chief Justice.

In April this year, Yang changed his lawyer to get "a new perspective". He is now represented by Mr Irving Choh, founder of law firm Optimus Chambers.

Madam Mok is represented by Mr Peter Doraisamy from Selvam LLC.

FIGHTING OVER THE WILL

But while the question over the control of the assets while Madam Chung is still alive was resolved, a more troubling matter still hangs in the balance - who inherits the assets after the widow dies?

In 2010, Madam Chung made a will in which Yang stood to inherit everything.

To correct that, Madam Mok made a new statutory will on behalf of her aunt last year, in which most of the assets would go to charity.

The courts recognised the new will in April last year, based on evidence given by several witnesses that Madam Chung had made the 2010 will under the undue influence of Yang, among other factors.

Yang appealed on grounds that there was a procedural failure in the proceedings as the judge had denied his lawyers the chance to cross-examine witnesses who had given evidence to support the application for the new will.

The appeal was dismissed last month but Yang can still appeal the decision.

THE COURT HEARINGS

When Yang appears in court on Monday, it starts a new phase of the family drama that has gripped the media for the past two years.

 

But the alleged immigration and falsification offences that he will be tried for in court on Monday are the less serious ones.

He also faces two criminal breach of trust (CBT) charges of allegedly siphoning off $1.1 million from Madam Chung.

Monday's trial covers only the alleged immigration and receipt falsification offences.

He is due back in court next month for the CBT charges that carry a jail term of up to seven years and a fine.

But it is not yet known when his biggest showdown with Madam Mok will take place.

Her high-profile civil law suit against Yang has not been scheduled to be heard in the High Court yet.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 29, 2016, with the headline 'Ex-tour guide faces 349 criminal charges'. Print Edition | Subscribe