SINGAPORE: Former China tour guide Yang Yin has been convicted of misappropriating S$1.1 million belonging to an elderly widow. He pleaded guilty on Tuesday (Aug 16) to two criminal breach of trust charges.
The 42-year-old's guilty plea came after he made several about-turns. On Jul 8, he said he would plead guilty to the charges, but three weeks later on Jul 27, he told the court that he had changed his mind. He then indicated that he was again thinking of pleading guilty during a court session on Aug 15.
In court on Tuesday, Yang admitted that Madam Chung Khin Chun had entrusted S$500,000 to him in 2010 to purchase a painting titled "Horse Drinking Water" by renowned Chinese painter Xu Bei Hong, but that he misappropriated the money.
To conceal his wrongdoing, he procured a fake, valued at around S$200, and a falsified receipt.
Yang also admitted to misappropriating S$600,000 belonging to Madam Chung in 2012. He told the investigation officer that he had used the amount to buy five paintings for Madam Chung. An art expert, however, had testified that the estimated total value of the paintings was S$2,000 to S$3,000.
According to court documents, Yang has, to date, not truthfully accounted for the whereabouts of the two sums of money; nor has he made restitution.
Yang met Madam Chung in Singapore in 2006, and was her tour guide on a holiday to China in 2008. The pair kept in touch and grew close, and Yang came to Singapore to live with the widow, now 89, after the death of her husband.
In a previous court session, the prosecution said that Yang increasingly took over control of Madam Chung’s financial affairs, and by 2012, the childless widow had given Yang control over her welfare and assets via a Lasting Power of Attorney.
When Madam Chung was diagnosed with dementia in 2014, her niece Madam Hedy Mok stepped in and took Yang to court. Yang was arrested in 2014 and charged with a slew of offences, including the two criminal breach of trust charges.
He pleaded guilty in May to 120 charges, the bulk of which were for the falsification of receipts for a company he set up to gain permanent residency. Yang has been in remand since October 2014.
The hearing has been adjourned to Sep 9 for submissions on sentencing and mitigation. Yang is likely to be sentenced on the same day. For each criminal breach of trust charge, Yang could be jailed up to seven years or fined, or both.