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CHC trial: Prosecution's evidence is "piecemeal", says defence

The defence lawyers of the six leaders of the City Harvest Church suggested that the way the prosecution sought answers from witnesses was out of context.

SINGAPORE: The defence lawyers of the six leaders of the City Harvest Church suggested that the way the prosecution sought answers from witnesses was out of context.

On Wednesday, Edwin Tong -- the lawyer of church founder Kong Hee -- led the defence team in the cross-examination of the church's former lead auditor Sim Guan Seng.

Referring to several documents, Mr Tong tried to make the point that the prosecution took a "piecemeal" approach by directing Mr Sim to selected pieces of information from the documents.

Mr Sim had previously testified that it was unusual for Kong, a church representative, to be discussing in emails about Ms Sun Ho's album production when music management firm Xtron was taking care of those matters.

On Wednesday, the defence brought up information showing Kong as the liaison between the church and the American music producers.

Mr Sim said he was not aware of this.

Mr Tong said: "This will demystify some of the doubts you had."

"At least partially," replied Mr Sim.

Mr Tong also asked Mr Sim if it was clear that the church's building fund was used to launch Ms Ho's music album.

Mr Sim said: "Yes".

The lawyer then asked if, despite his various concerns about the church's and Xtron's accounts, Mr Sim had eventually signed off on the financial statements as he was satisfied they were dealt with.

Mr Sim agreed that he had done so.

Later in the day, Mr Kannan Ramesh, the lawyer representing church deputy Sharon Tan, sought to refute the prosecution's argument that there were "unusual" and troubling transactions between the church and Xtron, among other things.

Earlier this week, Mr Sim had testified that the bond investments made by the church did not make sense, and that the accused persons' secrecy as shown in the emails would raise "red flags".

Therefore, Mr Ramesh asked if Mr Sim would maintain this view if the transactions were deliberated upon by the church board.

"If I ask you to tell me whether your views will still remain if these transactions, or the substance of these transactions... were disclosed to the board of the church, deliberated upon by the board of the church and approved by the board of the church, would your answers still be the same?" asked Mr Ramesh.

Mr Sim said: "I would think so. My answer would still be the same."

"Would you be able to take that position without speaking to the members of the board to understand why they had given the go-ahead?" asked Mr Ramesh.

"The (way) it has been approved doesn't mean very much to me as an auditor. It could be (that) the whole board (was) in collusion to approve this. It makes no difference to the substance of the actual flow of funds," Mr Sim told the court.

It is the prosecution's case that Kong and five church deputies had misused millions of church monies to fund the career of Ms Ho, who is Kong's wife.

The prosecution alleges that the accused did so through "sham bond investments" in companies like Xtron.

The trial continues. 

 

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