High Court rules late brother's CPF savings should go to his sisters instead of his China bride

The High Court ruled that Ms Diao Yanmei (pictured) was in a sham marriage with the late Mr Soon Chwee Guan, and that his CPF savings should go to his two sisters instead.
The High Court ruled that Ms Diao Yanmei (pictured) was in a sham marriage with the late Mr Soon Chwee Guan, and that his CPF savings should go to his two sisters instead. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Two sisters may now be able to get more than $170,000 in their late brother's Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings, after the High Court ruled that the money should go to them, instead of a Chinese national he married in 2011.

Madam Soon Ah See, 56 and Madam Soon Ah Choon, 54, found out their brother Mr Soon Chwee Guan was married to Ms Diao Yanmei, 47, only after he died in August 2013, and that his CPF monies would go to her.

They believed it was a sham marriage and took the case to court. Through their lawyer A. Rajandran, they filed an injunction in the High Court to restrain the CPF Board from releasing any monies in Mr Soon's CPF account. It was granted in September 2013 and has been in place since.

Mr Soon, who would be 55 years old now, had nominated his sisters as the beneficiaries to the money in January 2009. According to court documents, he did not tell his family about the marriage, although he was close to them, and lived with his mother and sister in Bukit Batok.

In his written judgment on Tuesday (Sept 6), Judicial Commissioner Edmund Leow said he accepted the sisters' submission that the defendant and the deceased had not entered into a genuine marriage.

"This was probably done so that the defendant could bolster her chances of staying on in Singapore and working here. It is no coincidence that just a little over a week after the marriage, the defendant applied for a work permit," he wrote. She was successful and hired to be a spa therapist.

Court documents also said that Mr Soon told his friend he entered into a sham marriage. The friend, Mr Lee Hock Hoo, 71, testified that he told Mr Soon the marriage was wrong.

However, Mr Soon said "the arrangement would enable him to have some money to spend every month as he was unemployed". He would be paid $4,000 by Ms Diao, and a monthly sum of $400.

Ms Diao had claimed to love Mr Soon, and to meet him for dinner about once a week, but could not say why she loved him, and claimed they would eat fish, when Mr Soon did not and was allergic to seafood.

She also could not pinpoint the locations they apparently had sex at.

JC Leow also pointed out that Ms Diao did not know how many siblings he had, which schools he attended, or which brand of beer he preferred.

JC Leow said that Ms Diao's evidence "could not stand up to scrutiny", and that she made various assertions in written sworn statements, but was unable to substantiate them at the six-day trial.

While JC Leow said that the marriage was valid according to the Women's Charter, it was "not the sort of marriage that falls within the meaning of marriage" under the CPF Act.

"On the facts of this case, I am satisfied that the deceased had no intention of benefiting the defendant with his CPF monies," he said.

If no appeal is filed in a month, he ordered for the discharge of the injunction which prevented the release of Mr Soon's CPF savings, and the monies released to the sisters.