Ming Yi On Trial: You are in cahoots

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Ming Yi On Trial
You are in cahoots
The prosecution labels Ming Yi and Yeung as birds in formation, as they back each other up

By Andre Yeo

July 31, 2009 Print Ready Email Article

LIKE geese flying in formation.

Click to see larger image
‘IN FORMATION’: Shi Ming Yi and Raymond Yeung making their way to the Subordinate Courts building earlier this week. ST FILE PICTURE

That was how the prosecution described the monk and his former assistant who are accused of covering up a $50,000 loan from Ren Ci Hospital.

The former assistant, Raymond Yeung, 34, was so close to Shi Ming Yi, 47, that he aligned his lies to that of the founder and former CEO of Ren Ci Hospital.

Yeung, who remained on the stand yesterday, is being jointly tried with Ming Yi, for misuse of the charity’s funds.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) David Chew argued that Yeung, an Australian who is a Singapore permanent resident, has been lying to the court with his version of how the money went missing.

This was because it was totally different from what Yeung had told police officers last year.

Click to see larger image

Mr Chew, referring to the three statements Yeung gave to the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) on 26 Mar last year, argued that Yeung made no mention of Ren Ci giving Mandala Buddhist Cultural Centre the $50,000 loan, which was then given to Yeung.

Yeung ran Mandala, a Ren Ci-affiliated business that sold Buddhist artefacts.

That is the version Yeung has been sticking to since he took the witness stand last Thursday.

Mr Chew said this back-to-back loan was only coming out in court now to protect Ming Yi, who had allegedly known all along that Yeung could not be given the loan as he was not a Ren Ci employee in May 2004.

So this Mandala loan was actually a Ren Ci loan, said Mr Chew. Furthermore, Yeung had admitted in court earlier that he knew Mandala didn’t have the money to lend him.

Back-to-back loans

Yeung, who spent 30 minutes yesterday poring over his three statements to the CAD, replied that he did tell them three times during the interviews that it was a back-to-back loan from Ren Ci to Mandala, then to him.

He cited the phrase ‘and thereafter record it as a loan from Mandala to me’ to back up his story.

But Mr Chew said those three examples merely referred to the money being recorded as a loan in Mandala’s books, and not as a loan from Ren Ci to Mandala, then to him.

Yeung disagreed.

Yeung’s story that Ming Yi had known only in January last year about the $50,000 being used to buy some wood was a lie, charged Mr Chew. The prosecution contends that Ming Yi had known about this since late 2006.

Yeung disagreed.

Mr Chew said Yeung had actually told the CAD the truth in his statements in 2008, but was now coming to court to say some of his statements were untrue to protect Ming Yi.

During the interview, the CAD had put it to Yeung that Ming Yi would have known the $50,000 was a personal loan to Yeung, and Yeung wanted to record it as a loan to Mandala.

Yeung’s reply to the CAD in 2008 was: ‘Yes. I told him when I approached him for the $50,000 loan from Ren Ci.’

But in court yesterday, while admitting the statement he had given was correct, Yeung still insisted the loan was from Mandala and not from Ren Ci.

Mr Chew argued that this example, among others cited by him, showed Yeung and Ming Yi were in cahoots to explain the reasons for the missing money.

Said Mr Chew: ‘Your incident in court coincides with Venerable’s version. I put it to you that the two of you are like geese flying in close formation.

‘And because you are here in court facing him, you are taking a version that is consistent in assisting your Shi Fu, your friend, your employer. Agree or disagree?’

I disagree, said Yeung.

Mr Chew said Yeung was actually telling the CAD the truth when he made the three statements.

But Yeung gave a familiar-sounding reply: ‘Partially correct, partially incorrect.’

Yeung’s lawyer, Mr Ng Lip Chih, later asked him about the CAD statements, and Yeung made more than 10 clarifications to them.

What he had said then may not have come out properly, he claimed, as he had given the statements in English. He said he was more conversant in Cantonese.

DPP Jaswant Singh told the court they would be calling two Ministry of Manpower officers as rebuttal witnesses to refute claims Ming Yi had made when he took the stand in April, regarding Yeung’s employment pass.

The trial continues on Monday.


ABOUT THE CASE

MING Yi faces 10 charges of fraud, forgery and misappropriating $350,000.

He is accused of providing false or misleading information to the Commissioner of Charities, conspiracy to falsify a payment voucher and misappropriation of Ren Ci funds.

One charge is that he gave then personal assistant Raymond Yeung an unauthorised $50,000 loan on 17 May 2004 to pay for the renovation of Yeung’s Hong Kong flat.

Yeung has been charged with conspiring to forge a Ren Ci document and giving false information to the Commissioner of Charities.

He and Yeung are being tried jointly.

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