BY CAROLYN KHEW AND TOH YONG CHUAN, Straits Times
SINGAPORE – In an unexpected twist, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) applied to the court on Monday to temporarily suspend the powers of both the niece of a wealthy widow and a former Chinese tour guide over control of her assets estimated to amount to $40 million.
The widow, Madam Chung Khin Chun, 87, was allegedly manipulated into handing control of her assets to the former tour guide, Mr Yang Yin.
This was revealed in a press statement sent by Mr Yang’s lawyer, Mr Daniel Zhu from Straits Law Practice LLC, on Monday night. Mr Zhu added that Mr Yang “welcomes and supports” the application of the OPG.
The application will be heard on Oct 3. If it is approved, neither Mr Yang nor Madam Chung’s niece, Madam Hedy Mok, can represent the widow.
Explaining the latest move, an OPG spokesman told The Straits Times that “the above actions are necessary to safeguard and protect the interests and assets of Madam Chung”. “The OPG will decide on the cancellation of the LPA after the court has made a determination on Mdm Chung’s mental capacity.”
If the application is approved, it will also allow Madam Chung to be independently assessed by a medical expert to be appointed by the court.
The check will determine whether she has the mental capacity to revoke the Lasting Power of Attorney she gave to Mr Yang in 2012, which in effect allowed him to control her assets estimated to be worth $40 million.
Madam Mok,60, a travel agency owner, was appointed on Aug 1 as her aunt’s deputy for the purposes of commencing legal proceedings on her behalf under the Mental Capacity Act.
Earlier last week, the OPG revealed that it had lodged a report against Mr Yang after it emerged he had boasted about his wealth and lavish lifestyle online. The report was made on Sept 17, the same day that he had been arrested for suspected criminal breach of trust.
Last week, the wealthy widow had also asked the OPG to cancel the LPA which she gave Mr Yang Yin in 2012. The move came after a psychiatrist who examined her found that she has the mental capacity to revoke the LPA, despite suffering from dementia.