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Cross-examination of auditor in CHC trial ends

The cross-examination of the Baker Tilly auditor ended on Thursday in the trial of the six leaders of City Harvest Church - with the witness clarifying her evidence on the use of the church's building funds.

SINGAPORE: The cross-examination of the Baker Tilly auditor ended on Thursday in the trial of the six leaders of City Harvest Church - with the witness clarifying her evidence on the use of the church's building funds.

The defence had tried to make the point on Wednesday that the auditors had known the church invested building fund monies in Xtron, an events firm that used to manage singer Sun Ho's career.

The church had asked AMAC Capital Partners to invest its funds.

The monies were then used to purchase Xtron bonds.

The defence's argument was that the auditors had known Xtron spent the money on producing Ms Ho's music albums.

Auditor Tiang Yii had said she did not find anything suspicious about these transactions.

During Thursday’s re-examination, the prosecution asked how Ms Tiang came to know the monies from the building funds, were used to invest in Xtron bonds.

Ms Tiang said accused Serina Wee had told them so.

"This is what we were told by Serina Wee. But we have yet to actually verify that," said Ms Tiang.

In such instances, the auditors would ask for supporting documents to show that the church's constitution allowed such investments through the building funds.

The court then heard that this information, including the church's investment policy, was provided by Wee as well.

The defence also sought to show that there had been no concealment of how the Xtron bonds' proceeds were used for Ms Ho's music albums.

Referring to the church's audit report, the prosecution asked if there were records of the building fund monies being used for producing albums.

Ms Tiang said for the financial year ending 30 June 2007, there was no record.

She said this was because it happened only after 30 June 2007.

Another point made previously - that accused John Lam was roped in to help with the discussion on the church's accounts and its bond subscription with Xtron due to his accounting background.

The prosecution argued Thursday that if Lam was a management board member of the church brought in to help with audit issues, he should not be advising Wee on Xtron's draft audit report.

To this, Ms Tiang said she did not know why.

During Thursday's hearing, there were lively exchanges between the prosecution and defence.

Prosecutor Mavis Chionh had tried to ask Ms Tiang a hypothetical question, but defence lawyer N Sreenivasan objected the move.

So she pointed out the defence's key proposition is - "the auditors did not cry fraud".

Ms Ho's husband and church founder Kong Hee, along with five deputies, are accused of misusing millions of church monies.

Two new witnesses are expected to take the stand on Friday.

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