- POSTED: 12 Sep 2013 23:54
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The City Harvest Church leaders accused of misusing church funds to finance singer Sun Ho's music career had allegedly tried to conceal the kind of investments made.
SINGAPORE: The City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders accused of misusing church funds to finance singer Sun Ho's music career had allegedly tried to conceal the kind of investments made.
On Thursday, the prosecution sought to show this through a chain of emails dated 12 October 2007, between three of the six accused -- Chew Eng Han, Serina Wee and John Lam.
In the emails, the three discussed how they could withhold information from two parties -- the church's investment committee, as well as the church board members.
They talked about how the investment portfolio handled by Chew, who was at that time in charge of investing the church's funds, will not be seen by the board members nor the investment committee of the church.
Chew said in that email that "only the auditor will see the whole portfolio."
He added that this was "okay" as they have cleared it with the auditor, Mr Foong Daw Ching.
In the email, Chew also said: "I prefer this be kept within a small circle because of the proximity of Xtron (Productions) to Sun (Ho) and therefore to Pastor Kong (Hee). If one day someone turns away from CHC and becomes nasty, he may say all kinds of baseless things.
“The way we can do this is when you convene the committee meetings, begin to draft out the terms of the meeting given the new situation where monies are now managed externally. If the role is correctly spelt, we shouldn't have to constantly face this potential problem."
Lam then replied to the email saying: "Okay, then we go with your idea."
However, Mr Foong testified on Thursday saying he never had such a conversation with anyone from the church.
In other emails between Chew, Wee and another accused person, Tan Ye Peng, Mr Foong's name was also mentioned and he was said to have given them advice on bond transactions.
When asked, Mr Foong said he usually offers a very general comment, for example, how bonds ought to be disclosed in the financial statement.
He denied giving the accused specifics.
The prosecution is arguing that the emails were sent shortly after the first bond subscription agreement between AMAC Capital and Xtron Productions was signed in August 2007.
At that time, AMAC was headed by Chew and was tasked to invest the church's monies, while Xtron was the management company of Ms Ho, who was involved in the Crossover Project.
The Crossover Project sought to reach out to the secular world through Ms Ho's music.
The prosecution is trying to show that the accused were plotting to cover up their plans to channel money into Ms Ho's singing career.
Mr Foong, who is from accounting firm Baker Tilly, also told the court on Thursday that he did not draft the statement he made in a 2003 video.
In that video, the witness declared no church funds was used to promote Ms Ho's career and that all information presented to the church board members was "true and fair".
When questioned by lead prosecutor Mavis Chionh, Mr Foong said the church had prepared the statement and rushed him to record it.
But when pressed for a name, Mr Foong said he could not remember who drafted the statement for him to read and who wanted him to make that video.
In January 2003, then church member Roland Poon alleged that church funds were used to finance Ms Ho's career.
But he later retracted his allegations and made public apologies.
Mr Foong was then roped in to record a video declaring that Mr Poon's allegations were false.
Earlier in the day, Mr Foong also took the court through the auditing and approval processes.
Testifying for a second day, Mr Foong told the court that the church has been a client of his since 1993.
He said church representatives Tan, Wee and either Lam or Chew would seek his opinions on matters like property acquisitions and advance rental payments.
The four, along with CHC founder Kong Hee and Sharon Tan, are accused of misusing S$24 million church funds to boost the music career of Kong's wife, Ms Ho.
The trial continues.