Kong Hee not involved in transactions involving Firna: defence lawyer
- POSTED: 10 Sep 2013 13:56
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The lawyer of Kong Hee, the founder of City Harvest Church, sought to show on Tuesday that his client had nothing to do with the numerous transactions involving glassware firm Firna.
SINGAPORE: The lawyer of Kong Hee, the founder of City Harvest Church, sought to show on Tuesday that his client had nothing to do with the numerous transactions involving glassware firm Firna.
The prosecution alleges that Firna is one of the firms used by the six accused as a vehicle to commit and cover up their offences through sham bond investments.
Firna is owned by Indonesian businessman Wahju Hanafi, who is testifying in the trial of the six church leaders.
On Tuesday, Kong's lawyer, Edwin Tong, posed a series of questions to Mr Hanafi, asking if his client had anything to do with what should be done with the proceeds of the Firna bonds.
He also asked Mr Hanafi if Kong had anything to do with the convertibility of Firna bonds into shares and if the founder decided on the various drawdown details.
Mr Hanafi said Kong was not involved in these matters.
The lawyer also sought to show that Kong had put much thought to ensure that the investments made with the church's money were sustainable.
He referred to an email dated 28 July 2008 that was sent by Kong to co-accused Serina Wee and Tan Ye Peng, in which the founder had asked about worst-case scenarios and whether Mr Hanafi would then be able to redeem the bonds.
Kong had asked Wee and Tan to assume that only a third of the projected profits from Crossover Project, that dealt with Sun Ho's first English album, were to come in and work out the estimates.
Mr Tong's point was that Kong and the other church members had done their due diligence in ensuring Ms Ho's album project in the United States was financially viable and potential losses were minimal.
The defence then pointed out that if the profits were only a third of what American producers had projected, the shortfall in the church's bond investments would only be S$3.4 million.
It said Mr Hanafi could easily settle this amount.
At the start of the trial, the prosecution had alleged that the accused did not genuinely consider the viability of the promised returns or the recoverability of the principal amounts invested using the church's funds.
During the prosecution’s re-examination of its key witness, sparks also flew in the courtroom, with the defence lawyers taking turns to object to the prosecution's line of questioning, saying it is repetitive, among other things.
The court also heard sharp exchanges between the prosecution and its witness, which sometimes drew laughter from the public gallery.
Kong, along with five of his deputies, allegedly misused S$24 million of the church's building funds to finance the career of singer Sun Ho, Kong's wife.
Four of the six accused also face charges of trying to cover up the misuse through "round-tripping" of what the prosecution describes as sham bond investments.