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City Harvest trial resumes with 'Crossover' project in the spotlight

Plan to propel founder Kong Hee's wife Sun Ho to secular success could not be viewed as church-backed, defendant and former board member John Lam says on the stand.

SINGAPORE: The trial involving City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and his five deputies resumed on Monday (July 14), with former church board member John Lam taking the stand.

Lam - one of the accused and the first to testify for the defence - was questioned about the church's Crossover project, which dealt with the secular music career of Kong's wife, church co-founder Sun Ho.

The six are accused of channelling S$24 million in church building funds into sham bond investments primarily for her music career, and subsequently misappropriating another S$26.6 million to cover up the initial alleged sum.

READ: City Harvest have case to answer, says Judge

Lam explained the genesis of the Crossover project and why it was important that it not be viewed as a church-backed endeavour, as that would defeat the objective of the project.

"The Crossover Project is about Sun being a commercial success, because by doing that, she would reach a segment of people the church didn't previously have access to," he said, referring to youth who could not connect with church because they did not find it relevant. "Their values and preferences are influenced by pop culture ... that and the entertainment industry hold more sway."

Lam said that the board was always kept fully aware of the developments in Sun's career.

Earlier, Lam's lawyer Kenneth Tan had argued for his client's conditioned statement to be tendered in the court as his evidence-in-chief to speed up the hearing "substantially". But this did not go through, after the prosecution objected to large parts of the statement related to the charges Lam faces.

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