SINGAPORE: Former tour guide Yang Yin’s “criminal odyssey” lasted for the five years - the entirety of his stay in Singapore - during which he committed crimes against wealthy widow Chung Khin Chun, Government agencies and multiple individuals and businesses, prosecutors said on Wednesday (Sep 28).
Aside from the 10 to 12-year jail term they have sought for Yang’s misappropriation of S$1.1 million from Mdm Chung, prosecutors urged the court to impose another two-and-a-half to three years’ jail on Yang, following his conviction in May of 120 charges.
These charges include 110 counts for falsifying receipts involving S$186,900 showing payments to a shell company Yang set up to gain permanent residency here, as well as four charges under the Companies Act and three each for cheating and immigration offences.
“This is a foreign national who has spent almost his entire five years in Singapore either offending or preparing to offend,” Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Tan said on Wednesday. “Instead of being productive, Yang was prolific in generating a compendium of false documentation.”
The court heard Yang had fooled five Government agencies – including the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, Central Provident Fund Board, Ministry of Manpower and the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority – on his way to obtaining permanent residency here.
“(Yang) displayed extraordinary brazenness in offending”, DPP Tan said. “He had no qualms in conjuring up an entire business … (creating) an entire fiction, inventing customers, revenues and salaries from thin air.”
Yang registered a sham business – a music and dance school – and duped MOM into granting him an Employment Pass, which he later used to shore up his permanent residency application to the ICA. He also tricked IRAS and CPF by paying small sums of income tax – which he later called “charity” and “giving back to society” – to reflect his employment at a seemingly profitable company, prosecutors said.
“This is the character of Yang’s stay in Singapore. Although this epic tale is nearly at its conclusion, in this final chapter we still see a lack of genuine remorse … I’m hard-pressed to find even a single indication of compunction, of regret, for what he has done,” DPP Tan said.
Defence lawyer Irving Choh urged the court to impose a shorter jail term of one to two years, citing hardship on Yang’s family. “My client has a wife, two young children and aged parents to support”, Mr Choh said, adding Yang had been the sole breadwinner of the family and that his parents are not in good health.
Prosecutors contested this, saying Yang had voluntarily left his family behind for five years. His first child was a baby when he first came to Singapore, and his second child was born while he was here, DPP Tan said. “He has demonstrated (his willingness to leave) his young children, his elderly parents, to come to Singapore. So I think there is some hypocrisy in that argument.”
Yang will be sentenced on Thursday morning.
Yang also faces two charges for criminal breach of trust, for which he will be sentenced separately on Friday.
Yang pocketed S$1.1 million from Madam Chung during his stay here, in what prosecutors called a “deep betrayal” of the widow, 89, who had given Yang control over her assets – worth millions of dollars – trusting him to use the money to look after her in her golden years.
Instead, in the years that followed, Yang nearly emptied the widow’s bank account. In early 2010, Mdm Chung had S$2.7 million in liquid assets. By August 2014, shortly before Yang’s arrest, the widow’s bank account contained less than S$10,000. She was none the wiser.
Yang had “intentionally fostered an environment of unquestioning trust with Mdm Chung … by capitalising on her age and lack of familial support”, DPP Sanjiv Vaswani told the court at a hearing earlier this month.
To date, the true whereabouts of the S$1.1 million remain unknown. Yang has not made any restitution. Another S$1,128,004 remains frozen in his bank account.
According to Yang, Mdm Chung, whom he met in 2006, had convinced him to leave his wife and two children and move to Singapore to live with her in her Gerald Crescent bungalow as her "grandson". He moved here in 2009, and by February 2010, Mdm Chung had made a will leaving all her assets to him.
When Mdm Chung was diagnosed with dementia in 2014, her niece Hedy Mok stepped in and took Yang to court. Yang was subsequently arrested and charged.