SINGAPORE- Former China tour guide Yang Yin allegedly withdrew $600,000 in cash in 2012 to set up his own art gallery business in Hong Kong, and not to buy paintings for wealthy widow Madam Chung Khin Chun.
Testifying in court, Yang's bank relationship manager said the money was withdrawn from Yang's personal bank account, which was set up after he redeemed Madam Chung's unit trust investments worth more than $1.3 million in 2011.
The trial against Yang, who is accused of criminal breach of trust, started on Friday (July 1).
Mr Ngoh Boon Leong - Yang's relationship manager at OCBC bank - told the court Yang said he had wanted to withdraw a sum of $600,000 in January 2012 and use it as collateral for the business.
"My understanding of opening business entities is that they don't normally require cash as collateral, plus the amount was indeed a bit too big, even if it's for this reason," said Mr Ngoh, who added that he was "bewildered" when Yang told him the purpose for wtihdrawing the large sum of money.
This differed from what Yang mentioned in his civil case documents, where he said that the money was withdrawn to buy six paintings.
Mr Ngoh added that Yang had requested for $10,000 bills so that the money could be transported easily.
Yang faces two criminal breach of trust charges over allegedly misappropriating $1.1 million from Madam Chung.
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.
During Friday's hearing, prosecutors also brought up the sum of $500,000 which was transferred from Madam Chung's bank account to that of Yang's father Mr Yang Sannan.
While Yang claimed that he withdrew the funds to purchase a painting titled "Horse Drinking Water" on behalf of Madam Chung, the prosecution said in their opening statement that evidence would be presented to show that the accused "did no such thing".
The painting was later seized in September 2014 at a Fernvale residence where Yang had been staying at.
Throughout the trial, Yang who was dressed in a purple jumpsuit with his feet shackled, looked expressionless.
He had pleaded guilty in May to 120 charges relating to immigration offences and falsification of receipts - 110 charges were for the falsification of receipts made to his company, while the remaining were for immigration and cheating offences, as well as breaking Company Act laws.
He was arrested in September 2014 and charged a month later with a slew of offences, mostly falsifying receipts made to his company, Young Dance and Music Studio, so he could stay in Singapore.
Yang, who has been in remand since October 2014 after he was denied bail, also faces charges for cheating as well as breaking Companies Act laws.
The Straits Times first reported on the high-profile case in 2014 when Madam Hedy Mok, the niece of the widow, commenced a series of legal actions against Yang in the High Court.
Yang got to know the 89-year-old widow when he acted as her private tour guide during a trip to Beijing in 2008.