Ex-tour guide crafted 'web of deceit': Judge

Yang Yin leaving the Police Cantonment Complex on Sept 18, 2014.
Yang Yin leaving the Police Cantonment Complex on Sept 18, 2014. PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

Claims by former China tour guide Yang Yin that he moved in with rich widow Madam Chung Khin Chun to take care of her was nothing but a lie. It was instead part of a carefully crafted "web of deceit" to get his hands on the 88-year-old's $35 million fortune.

This is how District Judge Shobha G. Nair described a chain of events, in which Yang cut Madam Chung off from friends and neighbours, fired her maid and driver, and through undue influence, made him the sole beneficiary of her will.

Three months ago, the district judge threw out that will in a closed-door hearing and replaced it with a new one in which nearly all her assets will go to charitable causes - a decision which Yang is appealing. Yesterday, her grounds of judgment was released, and they revealed shocking testimony from Madam Chung's friends and former employees on Yang's behaviour.

Madam Chung met Yang during a China tour in 2008. She went with a 84-year-old woman, who was a close friend and had known Yang since 2005. He was their tour guide.

In 2009, he moved into Madam Chung's bungalow in Gerald Crescent, set up a company with her, and received permanent residency.

The close friend, who had been living with Madam Chung since 2004, decided to move out in 2011 and said it had become apparent Yang had control over the widow's money.

The court also heard how in 1989, Madam Chung executed a will in which much of her assets would go to a trust fund that would benefit various charities, including the Community Chest and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

In 2008, a year after the death of her husband Dr Chou Sip King, she told lawyers, one of whom was a family friend, that she wanted to update the will, to leave her close friend and long-time employees with enough living expenses.

She also wanted to set up a trust fund in her late husband's name to benefit charity.

But in 2010, she arrived at the lawyers' office with Yang, and introduced him as her nephew. He claimed that he was working at the Chinese Embassy, and declined to hand over his name card, saying that it was inappropriate to do so.

In subsequent meetings, Yang became her mouthpiece and told the lawyers their services were no longer needed. In 2009, and then 2010, Madam Chung, who was diagnosed with dementia last year, changed her will through another lawyer, leaving everything to Yang.

Witness affidavits presented by lawyers for the plaintiff, Madam Chung's niece Madam Hedy Mok, described Yang as a gold-digger who frequently asked the widow for money and luxury items.

An Indonesian maid who worked for Madam Chung said that before Yang brought his wife and children to live with him, he would entertain woman visitors at night. She testified that he stopped Madam Chung from visiting her regular doctor and changed her medication. She observed Madam Chung's health getting worse. She was also told by Yang not to allow Madam Chung's friends to come by.

Yang's defence did little to counter these allegations.

The judge, who did not name the parties involved, questioned why Yang would leave his own parents in China to take care of a woman he was not related to. "His benevolence had a price," she said. "The unfortunate reality is that (Madam Chung's) money and assets were (Yang's) sole interest and he pursued it with unconscionable drive."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 28, 2015, with the headline 'Ex-tour guide crafted 'web of deceit': Judge'. Print Edition | Subscribe