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CHC trial: Auditor "misrepresented" himself to church management

One of the defence lawyers representing the six leaders of the City Harvest Church has alleged in court that a Baker Tilly auditor had misrepresented himself to the church's management.

SINGAPORE: One of the defence lawyers representing the six leaders of the City Harvest Church has alleged in court that a Baker Tilly auditor had misrepresented himself to the church's management.

The auditor in question is Mr Foong Daw Ching, who testified against the six accused in previous hearings.

Mr N Sreenivasan, who represents accused Tan Ye Peng, asked witness Mdm Foong Ai Fang on Friday about Mr Foong calling himself the "consultant partner" of the CHC group of companies in an email.

Mdm Foong, who is Mr Foong's sister, testified that there was no such position at Baker Tilly. When asked if Mr Foong was then lying, Mdm Foong said she does not know what he meant by "consultant partner" and that she was stating the truth.

The court had heard previously that Mr Foong had provided general advice on the church's transactions, to the accused. However, the defence's case is that he had provided advice in his professional capacity.

Church founder Kong Hee and five deputies are accused of misusing millions of the church's building fund monies to boost the career of singer Sun Ho.

The prosecution alleges that the offences were committed via "sham bond investments" involving Ms Ho's former management company, Xtron.

Later on Friday, lawyers Mr Edwin Tong and Mr Andre Maniam tried to make the point that the church leaders did not have the mens rea, which is the state of mind, to commit the alleged offences.

They took the court through documents from as early as 2003 to show that the way the church funds were used at that time were no different than those made in 2007 and subsequent years.

The church had purchased the Xtron bonds in 2007 and amended the agreement in 2008.

The lawyers also made the point that the accused had been providing information to the auditors freely.

This, the defence argued, reflects the state of mind of the accused, whom they say have nothing to hide from auditors.

Mdm Foong will continue to take the stand on February 10.

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