Former China tour guide Yang Yin, who faces 349 criminal charges arising out of his dealings with a wealthy Singaporean widow, indicated on Monday (May 30) his intention to plead guilty to a host of charges, including for falsifying receipts amounting to over S$450,000.
Yang, 42, has spent the past 19 months in remand, having been denied bail after his arrest in 2014. After several false starts since then, Yang changed his mind on Monday, the first day of his week-long trial.
As Yang’s lawyer Wee Pan Lee was unable to come to an agreement with the prosecution despite hours spent in discussion on Monday, Deputy Presiding Judge Jennifer Marie fixed a hearing for Tuesday morning, when Yang is expected to plead guilty.
Mr Wee told the court he is disputing “just one sentence” in the prosecution’s statement, but added he is optimistic that parties will resolve the issue, and that Yang is “still on track” to enter a guilty plea on Tuesday morning.
Due to the sheer number and diversity of the charges against him, Yang was due to stand trial twice – the first trial, which was fixed for Monday, relates to 347 counts for falsification, immigration and cheating-related charges, and other charges under the Companies Act.
The second trial is scheduled to start later this month, and involves two counts of criminal breach of trust involving over S$1 million.
Yang is expected to enter a plea only in relation to the 347 charges which are the subject of the first trial. The criminal breach of trust offences will be dealt with separately, Channel NewsAsia understands.
Yang was briefly produced in court on Monday, and became aggressive towards widow Madam Chung Khin Chun and her niece Madam Hedy Mok, who were sitting in the front row of the public gallery. Yang, who was handcuffed, had to be restrained by police officers and led to the dock after he had moved towards the two women and made a loud comment in Mandarin.
Yang met Mdm Chung in 2006, and acted as her tour guide on a holiday to China two years later. The pair kept in touch and grew close, and Yang came to Singapore to live with the widow in 2009, after her husband’s death in 2007.
Yang set up a company here to gain an employment pass, followed by permanent residency in 2011, after which his Chinese wife and two children moved into Mdm Chung’s Gerald Crescent bungalow, which the widow had bequeathed to him in a 2010 will.
Mdm Chung had also given Yang control over her welfare and assets via a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in 2012. But when the widow was diagnosed with dementia in 2014, her niece Mdm Hedy Mok stepped in and took Yang to court. He was arrested and charged with various criminal offences in September and October 2014.
The LPA was revoked, and Mdm Chung’s new will left nothing to Yang.
Separately, Yang also faces a civil suit involving millions of dollars in the High Court brought by Mdm Mok, although trial dates have not been fixed yet.