- POSTED: 17 Sep 2013 18:32
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The defence continued to grill auditor Foong Daw Ching as he took the stand again on Tuesday. Mr Foong maintained he did not recall whether he read the emails sent to him by City Harvest Church leaders, and the defence lawyer suggested that Mr Foong's answers were a "convenient excuse".
SINGAPORE: The defence continued to grill auditor Foong Daw Ching as he took the stand again on Tuesday.
Edwin Tong, lawyer for City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee, suggested that some of Mr Foong's evidence was "incredible and unbelievable".
Mr Tong had referred to emails church leaders had sent to Mr Foong in 2008, which he used as examples to show that they were seeking Mr Foong's advice.
These concerned the bond subscription agreement, the relationship between Xtron and the church, as well as whether certain transactions constituted a breach of corporate governance.
The Xtron bonds were purchased by the church in 2007.
Mr Tong also pointed out that Mr Foong -- of accounting firm Baker Tilly -- had a discussion with church leaders relating to the issue of impairment of bonds.
Mr Foong maintained he did not recall whether he read the emails, and that he had given them only "general" advice as he was not the auditor-in-charge of the church's account during that period.
He said the issues were specific and he would not interfere as he expected the audit team in charge to handle it.
This led Mr Tong to question: "One of your biggest church clients is consistently sending you information, making sure that you are aware of the facts, asking you question after question, asking you for your advice, asking you for issues which you have agreed, (including) issues of insolvency which is a serious and significant concern, and each time your answer is "I just don't even recall reading the email". Is that what you are really saying?"
Mr Tong also suggested that Mr Foong's answers were a "convenient excuse".
The six church leaders are standing trial for allegedly misusing S$24 million of the church's building fund to boost the music career of Sun Ho, Kong's wife.
Mr Tong also produced a 2006 email from which Kong had written to Mr Foong regarding concerns about his financial accounts.
In the email, Kong asked Mr Foong and another auditor about Ms Ho's remuneration -- which at the time was S$16,000 a month for her singing, and another S$16,000 for every live concert she performed in.
He asked if Ms Ho's remuneration would still be considered a related-party transaction, since she was paid totally from non-CHC sources.
Ms Ho's career was at the time managed by Xtron, though she did not play the role of director, key executive, or decision maker.
However, City Harvest’s business made up the majority of Xtron's income.
Kong had written: "I am personally very troubled by these matters as I don't wish to bring any potential reproach to the church or its various ministry. If there is simply no way out of this related party dilemma, Sun and I are even willing to resign from the Management Board of CHC, if that would help diffuse the semblance of any conflict of interest on her part."
Mr Tong said this email was an example of Kong seeking advice from Mr Foong regarding a "serious concern".
In reply, Mr Foong said he could not recall if he had given Kong any advice on the matter.