|Ming Yi On TrialPERTH PROPERTY|
|Ming Yi On TrialPERTH PROPERTY|
|IT WAS his love for horses that led him to buy one in Perth, Australia.
But the founder and former CEO of Ren Ci hospital, Shi Ming Yi, 47, said he never rode the animal.
Ming Yi was on the stand for the sixth day of his 13-day trial for falsifying documentation and misappropriation.
He said he bought the horse because ‘I love horses. Like a pet. And I wanted a pet’.
Then he found out the horse was used for showjumping, and ‘that’s not what I wanted’.
Ming Yi told the court last week that he was ‘told that the horses need somebody to rear them’.
‘But later on, I found that the owner used it to go horse-racing… I thought he was meant to look after the horse, but not for racing purposes.’
That was why he sold the horse, which he had named Venezuela, he said.
It was not mentioned in court how much he bought and sold the horse for.
Venezuela was just one of the many purchases made by Ming Yi and his former personal executive, Raymond Yeung, put under the spotlight in court yesterday.
One of them was a BMW 540 Executive Series car he bought in Australia in 1998.
When asked by deputy public prosecutor Jaswant Singh on Friday, Ming Yi said he could not recollect buying the car.
But yesterday he said: ‘All along, I’ve wanted to have…’ He broke off and then added: ‘I like European cars because they’re more steady. That’s why I bought myself a BMW.’
Another reason for his choice of a BMW was that an elderly monk wanted him to drive ‘a safer car’.
Yeung, 34, also owned of a BMW, a 3 Series model.
When asked by Mr Singh why Yeung required his own car in Melbourne, Ming Yi said: ‘Mine was a bigger car and Raymond seldom drives in Hong Kong, Singapore and even in Australia.
‘That’s why he wanted a smaller car.’
Mr Singh asked: ‘So he chose a BMW?’
Ming Yi said: ‘Yes, a second-hand car.’
The monk also admitted that both he and Yeung took loans to pay for the cars. But he could not recall the amount of the loans.
Ming Yi was asked to explain why he said in his earlier testimony that the property he had bought in Perth in 1998 was ‘a mistake’.
He said: ‘Initially, I wanted to stay in Perth, the quiet life. I thought of investing in a place there but I think everything did not turn out well so eventually when it was finished, I did not even stay there.’
He sold the property later.
Ming Yi also bought a two-storey house in Melbourne in 2002 with the help of an elderly monk in Malaysia and a bank loan.
Mr Singh asked why he was willing to take a loan when he had said earlier that the Perth property was a mistake.
Ming Yi said he had chatted with the elderly monk about staying in Australia. When the elderly monk said he would give Ming Yi money to buy property in Melbourne, he took up the offer.
‘Although I long to stay in a quiet place, it just did not materialise. I did not have time to go to Perth,’ he added.
He claimed that he went to Perth only three or four times.
Ming Yi’s credit card bills between 2001 and 2006 also came under intense scrutiny in court.
Yeung was given supplementary cards for three of the credit cards Ming Yi held. The court was not told how many credit cards Ming Yi had.
But the court heard that Ming Yi had difficulties in paying some of his credit card bills and incurred late charges on some.
Ming Yi’s lawyer, Senior Counsel Andre Yeap, stepped in to request that the cross-examination be limited to the specific period relevant to the case.
He also asked for a court order against the media reporting any credit card transactions not brought up in court.
‘He is already suffering as much as any accused,’ Mr Yeap said.
If the press were allowed to publish the full five years of transactions ‘lock, stock and barrel… they’ll go to town with it, and it’d be unfair and a total character assassination of the person,’ he added.
District Judge Toh Yung Cheong allowed the request.
The credit card transactions that were highlighted in court revealed that Ming Yi went on a two-day holiday to Angsana Resort and Spa in Bintan in August 2004. He spent $1,600 on that trip.
He also went on a diving holiday to Phuket in July 2005.
But much of the focus was on Yeung’s taste for expensive designer goods and luxurious living.
Thousands of dollars were spent on his visits to various high-end boutiques such as Hugo Boss in Melbourne; Louis Vuitton in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore; and Prada, Gucci, Ermenegildo Zegna, Versace and Omega in Bangkok.
On one occasion, in November 2001, Yeung spent $5,020 at the Louis Vuitton boutique in Singapore. This was more than his monthly salary of $4,700, Mr Singh pointed out.
Ming Yi said that one of the purchases that made up the sub-total of over $7,000 for the month of November 2001 was some tableware from Takashimaya.
This led to one of the quirkiest exchanges of the day, marked by several tense verbal battles, between the monk and his cross-examiner.
He said: ‘I believe the Takashimaya tableware may not be his (Yeung’s). I remember that sometimes we would go and buy offerings to the deities.
‘We would buy things from Takashimaya.’
Mr Singh said: ‘You offered LV (Louis Vuitton) to deities?’
Ming Yi: ‘No, I’m saying the Takashimaya tableware was offered to deities.’
The trial continues today.
About the case
SHI Ming Yi is accused of forgery, providing false or misleading information to the Commissioner of Charities, conspiracy to falsify a payment voucher and the misappropriation of Ren Ci funds.
One charge is that he gave Yeung an authorised $50,000 loan on 17 May 2004 to pay for the renovation of Yeung’s Hong Kong flat.
Both men are accused of trying to cover it up.