Yang Yin pleads guilty: Widow's $2.7m savings down to $10k in 4 years

Yang, who is expected to be sentenced on Sept 9, had claimed Madam Chung saw him as her "grandson" and wanted to leave her assets to him. But in truth, he came to Singapore simply to benefit himself and his family. Madam Chung and her niece Hedy Mok
Madam Chung and her niece Hedy Mok arriving at the State Courts yesterday. Throughout the saga, Yang claimed that Madam Chung needed his help at home. But Immigration and Checkpoints Authority records showed that he was frequently away from Singapore.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW
Yang, who is expected to be sentenced on Sept 9, had claimed Madam Chung saw him as her "grandson" and wanted to leave her assets to him. But in truth, he came to Singapore simply to benefit himself and his family. Madam Chung and her niece Hedy Mok
Yang, who is expected to be sentenced on Sept 9, had claimed Madam Chung saw him as her "grandson" and wanted to leave her assets to him. But in truth, he came to Singapore simply to benefit himself and his family. ST FILE PHOTO

Yang Yin pleads guilty to misappropriating $1.1m from widow as his web of lies is exposed

Madam Chung Khin Chun, described as a "particularly warm, friendly and trusting person", lived modestly. But in the four years after Yang Yin moved into her Gerald Crescent bungalow to his arrest, her cash savings went from $2.7 million to just $10,000.

This was revealed yesterday when Yang, 42, pleaded guilty to misappropriating $1.1 million from the 89-year-old widow.

Since being accused by her niece of exerting an undue influence on the rich elderly woman, the former China tour guide has stuck to one narrative: that she saw him as the "grandson" she never had, and wanted him to move in and take care of her. That was why she wanted to leave her considerable assets to him.

  • What he took and the lies he spun

  • MISAPPROPRIATION OF $500,000 

    Some time in or around January 2010, Yang Yin persuaded Madam Chung Khin Chun that he had a friend in China by the name of Zhu, who had a valuable painting titled Yin Ma Tu (or Horse Drinking Water) by renowned Chinese painter Xu Bei Hong.

    He told her that Zhu was prepared to sell the painting for $500,000.

    She issued a cheque to Yang but he realised that if he were to remit such a large sum overseas, red flags might be raised as he was unemployed. So he transferred back the money, and got her to remit the money to his father's account in China.

    The horse painting he did buy was a fake. On March 4, 2010, he returned to Singapore and showed the fake painting and a falsified receipt to Madam Chung.

    LYING ON THE STAND 

    Yang later claimed during trial that the $500,000 had been a gift to him from Madam Chung for him to pay off his family debts. He also claimed that around $420,000 was used to pay off medical debts that his grandmother had incurred from a urinary tract condition.

    But when queried, he claimed he no longer had the bills and that some of them would have been burned.

    MISAPPROPRIATION OF $600,000 

    Yang was added as a joint account holder of Madam Chung's OCBC investment account in late 2009. In 2011, he told the bank to redeem unit trusts the widow entrusted to him. Proceeds of nearly $1.3 million were added to his account.

    On Jan 18, 2012, Yang withdrew $600,000 in cash from the account. He had called his personal banker at OCBC and asked for the sum to be given to him in $10,000 notes.

    When asked about the withdrawal, Yang lied that he was intending to register a company with business partners in Hong Kong. He also claimed that he required cash to purchase paintings for the business.

    Yang, in fact, had no intention whatsoever to set up a Hong Kong company.

    To hide his wrongdoing, Yang procured two fake receipts, which purported to show that he had purchased five paintings for a total of $587,000.

    LYING TO POLICE 

    After his arrest, he identified the five paintings he had "bought" for $600,000. Art expert Lim Sew Yong, however, testified that the five paintings were commonplace artworks and estimated the total value at $2,000 to $3,000.

  • Carolyn Khew

Yesterday, the story was exposed as nothing more than a fiction. He came to Singapore simply to benefit himself and his family.

Throughout the saga, Yang claimed that Madam Chung needed his help at home.

But Immigration and Checkpoints Authority records showed that he was frequently away from Singapore. Between September 2009 and September 2014, he left Singapore on 43 occasions and was away for a total of 307 days.

He never took Madam Chung, who was diagnosed with dementia in April 2014, to see a doctor or a psychiatrist.

All household chores, including cleaning and cooking, were done by maids. Yang also ate breakfast alone as he woke at around 10am to 11am, far later than Madam Chung.

"The accused claimed that Madam Chung had accepted him as her 'grandson' on a Beijing trip in 2008, and addressed him as such. This is false," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Sanjiv Vaswani in the statement of facts. "The accused also claimed that it was Madam Chung who had asked him to move to Singapore to live with her as her grandson. This is also false."

It was in 2006 that Yang, then a tour guide, first met Madam Chung. During the visit to Singapore, he told Madam Chung's friend, for whom he had organised a trip, that he was interested in art. She took him to the home of Madam Chung, an avid art collector.

The next meeting was in 2008, when Yang organised a Beijing trip for Madam Chung and her friend. During the trip, he started addressing the women as his grandmothers and urged them to call him "Xiao Yang" ("Little Yang").

From then on, Yang would periodically call Madam Chung, who was at a vulnerable time in her life after her husband died in 2007. He told her he often visited Singapore and she said he could use a spare room in her house to save on hotel charges.

In February 2009, he stayed there for a month. During the time, he persuaded her to give him $40,000 by claiming he needed to buy a car in China to practise driving since he had just got his licence. In truth, he did not have a licence.

He also told her he wanted to quit his job and find one in Singapore. But it has since been proved that the most he did in this regard later was to set up a fake music and dance company.

In July 2009, Yang returned for a month and told Madam Chung he would help manage her finances. Soon, he realised the extent of her savings and investments.

In January 2010, he persuaded her to give him $500,000 to buy her a horse painting by artist Xu Beihong.

 

Yang now admits he had in fact purchased a $200 fake.

To avoid suspicion, the sum was moved from the widow's bank account to his, then back to her account, before landing in his father's account in China.

He also tried to conceal his misappropriation of $600,000 by lying to the police that he had used the sum to buy five paintings for her.

The five paintings were evaluated by an expert to be worth only $2,000 to $3,000 in total.

During the trial, Yang lied that Madam Chung had given him all of her monies. These included over $300,000 that she entrusted to him to purchase a condominium unit on her behalf; $70,000 she gave for insurance policies in his name but monies from which were meant to benefit her when the policies matured; and a further $600,000 she wanted him to invest.

These sums, including the proceeds from the sale of the condo unit, have been seized by the authorities.

In 2010, he also influenced Madam Chung to change her will - which left most of her money to charity - to one that benefited him. The will has since been revoked by the courts.

Yang is expected to be sentenced on Sept 9.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2016, with the headline 'Widow's $2.7m savings down to $10k in 4 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe