Woman sues property agent over $830k

She claims agent used her signed cheques to make unauthorised withdrawals

A woman provided her real estate agent with four signed cheques to buy a Bedok Court flat, but he allegedly used them to withdraw over $830,000 from her bank account.

Ms Rohini Balasubramaniam, 56, a former teacher, is suing the agent, Mr Kelvin Yeow Khim Whye, 39, and real estate agency HSR International Realtors to get the cash back.

Mr Yeow, a bankrupt, is uncontactable and believed to be in China.

Ms Rohini got to know him in 2007, when she was looking for a property agency to act for her father, who wanted to sell a Neptune Court flat and buy a Bayshore Park apartment.

In 2009, she engaged Mr Yeow to sell the Bayshore Park apartment, which was left to her by her father - who died a year earlier.

In October 2009, Mr Yeow advised her to buy an apartment at Bedok Court for $1.28 million.

She said he also advised her to provide him with signed cheques for various payments, including for commission fees and legal costs.

As she was hospitalised in late 2009, she relied heavily on Mr Yeow on matters relating to the two property transactions, she said.

She instructed Mr Yeow to collect two cashier's orders and a cheque worth about $832,000 in total from her lawyers.

The money came from the sales proceeds of the Bayshore Park unit.

However, Ms Rohini noticed in 2010 that her bank account seemed to show that the money had not been credited.

On investigating the matter, she found out that the money had indeed been deposited into her account.

But $830,000 was withdrawn from the account by way of four cheques shortly after.

Two of the cheques were made out to Mr Yeow, while one was encashed and made out to Ms Sammi Ching May, who turned out to be Mr Yeow's creditor who made him bankrupt in 2013.

In her lawsuit, Ms Rohini, represented by lawyer Edmond Pereira, said the withdrawals were not authorised by her.

She said she had trusted Mr Yeow as a real estate broker, and believed the cheques would go towards her property purchase.

Meanwhile, HSR, represented by lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam, asserted it is unaware of Ms Rohini's claims.

The agency said it is not responsible for the actions of Mr Yeow, who was an independent contractor.

HSR said Ms Rohini's voluntary signing of her cheques was a "direct and substantial" cause of her alleged loss.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2017, with the headline 'Woman sues property agent over $830k'. Print Edition | Subscribe