Two paintings that former China tour guide Yang Yin said he had bought for wealthy widow Chung Khin Chun were actually purchased even before he became her private tour guide in 2008, a court heard yesterday.
Dr Tan It Koon, a retiree who has known Madam Chung for over 40 years, took the stand on the second day of the trial involving Yang's criminal breach of trust charges, and gave his account on the two paintings in question.
Yang, 42, is accused of misappropriating $500,000 and $600,000 from the 89-year-old widow on two separate occasions. He previously claimed he used the latter sum to buy six paintings on Madam Chung's behalf.
However, Dr Tan said Madam Chung and her late husband Chou Sip King bought one painting - which depicts horses and people - during a trip to China which he had accompanied them on. Dr Chou died in 2007.
Dr Tan, a former specialist in laboratory medicine, said he bought the other painting entitled Red Leaves And Three Horses himself in 1990 at Bras Basah Complex on behalf of Madam Chung.
"I was the one who paid for the painting, but Madam Chung later reimbursed me," said Dr Tan, who paid $1,680 for the painting.
Both paintings were among art works the police seized for investigations in 2014.
Dr Tan said he met Yang after he found out that the former tour guide had been staying at Madam Chung's place. Yang moved in with the widow in 2009 - a year after he acted as her private tour guide during a trip to Beijing.
Now in his 70s, Dr Tan cut off contact with Yang after the former tour guide started asking for his paintings. He said he found it strange that Yang would text him even though he hardly knew him.
Earlier in the day, Madam Chung's close friend, Madam Chang Phie Chin, 86, took the stand.
Speaking in Mandarin through an interpreter, she recounted how she discovered in August 2011 that a $200,000 fund which she had purchased at OCBC Bank had been sold and deposited into Madam Chung's account without her knowledge.
The fund was held in both Madam Chang and Madam Chung's names.
When she told the widow about the withdrawal, Madam Chung found it "strange", she said.
The widow then issued her a cheque for about $153,700 which bounced.
That was when Madam Chang decided to confront Yang. She said she would make a police report if the issue was not resolved.
The former tour guide then went with both women to an OCBC branch and later transferred about $153,700 to her.
When asked why she had moved out of the Gerald Crescent bungalow in November 2011, Madam Chang, who moved in to live with the couple in 2005, said: "I felt that my old friend whom I've had for 50 to 60 years did not believe what I said. I was very sad... The fact that so much had disappeared, I told her that she had been cheated."
When Yang's lawyer, Mr Irving Choh, asked Madam Chang why she did not prevent Yang from cheating Madam Chung, she said that she was not in a position to tell her friend what to do.
The trial continues today.