SINGAPORE- In a significant victory for wealthy widow Madam Chung Khin Chun, the Court of Appeal on Monday (Feb 29) overturned an earlier High Court decision to release about $98,000 for former China tour guide Yang Yin's legal fees.
Last year, Madam Hedy Mok - Madam Chung's niece - appealed against the High Court's decision to allow Yang to liquidate two life insurance policies worth about $98,000 to pay his legal fees.
In a judgment overturning the decision made by Justice Judith Prakash in April last year, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin said Yang had to prove that he had no other source of funds to pay for his legal fees.
However, bank statements produced by Madam Mok's lawyers Peter Doraisamy and Andrew Lee showed Yang had about $4 million which remained unaccounted for.
These were funds that had been withdrawn during the period from October 2009 to August 2014. It is not known where the funds had been transferred to.
"Mr Liow said he was taken by surprise but we do not accept that," said Chief Justice Menon.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Yang's lawyer Mr Joseph Liow said that he will be talking to his client to find out what should be done next. According to Mr Liow , he has not received legal fees from his client since December 2014.
Monday's Court of Appeal hearing marked the first time that the lawyers representing Yang and Madam Mok sparred in an open court.
Madam Chung, 89,owns a bungalow in Gerald Crescent and her assets are estimated to be worth $40 million. Since 2014, Madam Mok started a series of legal actions against Yang for allegedly manipulating her aunt into handing over her assets.
Yang met Madam Chung, a retired physiotherapist, in 2008 when he acted as her private guide during a China trip. A year later, he moved into her bungalow and claimed the widow wanted him to be her "grandson".
Apart from the civil court cases, Yang has been charged with falsifying receipts at his company and misappropriating $1.1 million from the estate of Madam Chung.
He has been in remand since Oct 31, 2014 after his bail application was denied.