Ex-tour guide likely to claim trial to 349 criminal charges

Yang faces charges that include criminal breach of trust and falsification of receipts.
Yang faces charges that include criminal breach of trust and falsification of receipts.

Criminal trial to be separated into two parts as 'the facts are different', says Yang Yin's lawyer

Former China tour guide Yang Yin is expected to claim trial to all 349 criminal charges brought against him, his lawyer said yesterday.

Yang, 42, was in court yesterday as his criminal case was scheduled to be mentioned.

After a meeting with Deputy Public Prosecutor Leong Weng Tat, Yang's lawyer, Mr Wee Pan Lee, told reporters that he had received "no instructions" on whether his client would plead guilty.

Speaking to The Straits Times later, Mr Wee said: "He is claiming trial. This is for now. Things can change."

The criminal trial will also be separated into two parts as "the facts are different", added Mr Wee.

The charges Yang faces include immigration offences and falsification of receipts made to his company, Young Music and Dance Studio.

The receipts allegedly made it seem that his firm, through which he obtained permanent residency, was viable and had received $450,000 in payment for services.

The most serious charges are two counts of criminal breach of trust, for allegedly misappropriating $1.1 million from 89-year-old widow Chung Khin Chun. These will be heard in a separate trial.

He allegedly misappropriated $500,000 from her in 2010. Two years later, he allegedly misappropriated another $600,000 from the widow, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2014.

In court yesterday, Yang was in remand uniform - a purple jumpsuit - and had neatly trimmed hair.

The Chinese national, who has been in remand since October 2014 after he was denied bail, peered out of the holding room occasionally.

The case involving Madam Chung and Yang broke in 2014 when her niece, Madam Hedy Mok, started a series of legal actions 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.

Yang met Madam Chung, a retired physiotherapist, when he acted as her private guide during a China trip in 2008. A year later, he moved into her bungalow and claimed the widow wanted him to be her "grandson". He was later given the right to manage her assets and welfare under a Lasting Power of Attorney, which has since been revoked.

Last year, the court also recognised a new statutory will - made by the widow, who has no children - in which most of her fortune would go to charity. In an earlier will, Yang had stood to inherit all her assets.

A pre-trial conference for the criminal case is scheduled for today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2016, with the headline 'Ex-tour guide likely to claim trial to 349 criminal charges'. Print Edition | Subscribe