AT THE COURTS

Dead man's mistress backs his friends suing estate administrators

The mistress of businessman Spencer Tuppani, who was fatally stabbed by his father-in-law in 2017, took the stand yesterday as a witness for two of Mr Tuppani's friends who have sued the co-administrators of his estate.

Ms Joan Yeo Gek Lin, 44, backed up the story of the two men, who claim in their lawsuit that they each hold a one-third share of a $4.6 million Holland Village property that was registered in Mr Tuppani's sole name.

Mr Jason Er Kok Yong, 42, and Mr Lawrence Lim Soon Hwa, 46, contend that they had each contributed $535,200 in cash to the purchase of the property, which was tenanted to well-known pub Wala Wala Cafe Bar.

Ms Yeo also testified that she and Mr Tuppani had funded the purchase of a $7.4 million Leedon Heights property that was bought in the names of their respective fathers.

She was testifying in the ongoing trial into the claims brought by the two men against the estate administrators - Mr Tuppani's widow Shyller Tan Cheng Cheng, her sister Sherry Tan San San, and his first wife Felicia Keh Lay Hong.

Aside from the duo's lawsuit over the ownership of the Holland Village property, Mr Er has also sued the co-administrators over the ownership of a $566,000 BMW M6 car bought in Mr Tuppani's sole name.

Mr Tuppani, 38, collapsed in Boon Tat Street after he was fatally stabbed by his father-in-law, Tan Nam Seng, on July 10, 2017.

Tan, 74, is serving an 8½-year jail term for the killing.

He was upset about how Mr Tuppani had treated Ms Shyller Tan and also believed that his son-in-law had cheated him of his shipping business.

In the current case, Ms Yeo said in her testimony that she met Mr Tuppani through friends in mid-2012 and they fell in love.

She said she knew that Mr Tuppani was in an unhappy marriage with Ms Shyller Tan, with whom he had three children.

Ms Yeo said that from late 2013, she and Mr Tuppani lived together as a couple and had two children together.

She said Mr Tuppani introduced her to Mr Er and Mr Lim, and the men would often discuss investment opportunities in her presence. She said she witnessed the trio entering into cash transactions among them for amounts of more than $100,000.

Ms Yeo said that in February 2017, Mr Tuppani told her that Mr Er and Mr Lim had decided to join him in investing in the Holland Village property, and that each of them would be coming up with one-third of the purchase price, less the bank loan.

Mr Tuppani also told her the trio had agreed to put the property under his name and he would hold Mr Er and Mr Lim's shares on trust for them, she said. In a WhatsApp message telling Ms Yeo about the property deal, Mr Tuppani said "All also cannot take loan".

Mr Er and Mr Lim had earlier testified that the property was bought in Mr Tuppani's sole name mainly because he was in a better position to get a property loan.

The duo also said Mr Tuppani had told them that the three of them had to pay an additional $350,000 as cash collateral for the $3.68 million loan, as well as $135,600 as buyer's stamp duty.

They said they found out - to their shock - only after Mr Tuppani's death that there was no collateral that had to be deposited with the bank and that Mr Tuppani had inflated the stamp duty by $3,000.

The trial continues next week.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2022, with the headline Dead man's mistress backs his friends suing estate administrators. Subscribe