- POSTED: 18 Sep 2013 17:37
- UPDATED: 18 Sep 2013 20:55
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The Ren Ci scandal sparked concerns among the City Harvest Church leaders about their investments in companies linked to the church. Some of them articulated these concerns in Blackberry messages to auditor Foong Daw Ching in 2008.
SINGAPORE: The Ren Ci scandal sparked concerns among the City Harvest Church leaders about their own investments in companies linked to the church.
Some of them had articulated these concerns in Blackberry messages to auditor Foong Daw Ching in 2008.
The court heard that the church’s founder Kong Hee, one of the six accused, had sent Mr Foong a message saying the church management board was disturbed by the Ren Ci scandal, and asked if some of the church leaders could meet up with him to go over some accounts.
Co-accused Tan Ye Peng had also sent a message to Mr Foong asking for a meet-up regarding the same concerns.
In 2008, Buddhist monk Ming Yi - who was then the chief of Ren Ci Hospital - was charged with misappropriating funds, falsifying accounts and forgery, among other things.
The six church leaders are on trial for the alleged misuse of millions of dollars in church funds to boost the music career of Sun Ho - the wife of Kong.
Four of the six also face allegations of using more money to cover up the misuse through what the prosecution said are "sham bond investments".
The defence team's case is that the church leaders had acted on the advice of Mr Foong when it came to various transactions, as he was a respected church elder and well regarded in his field.
Mr Foong had maintained several times that he did not recall reading emails the church leaders said they had sent to him, and that he had only given them "general advice" as he was not the auditor in charge of the church's account.
On Wednesday, Tan Ye Peng's lawyer, N Sreenivasan, continued his cross-examination of Mr Foong.
He produced phone logs and a chain of messages to show that some church leaders had communicated with Mr Foong and that he had replied to some of these messages.
Mr Sreenivasan also referred to a report that Tan had prepared of the church's various transactions that was sent to Mr Foong on 21 July 2008 for him to review - following the messages that were sent.
The report also contained questions about whether the transactions were legally above-board, and if there was any breach of corporate governance.
An email from co-accused Serina Wee sent three days later summarised the points that were discussed at a meeting between some of the church leaders and Mr Foong.
After being presented with the emails and phone messages, Mr Foong said there must have been some discussion.
Meanwhile, later in the afternoon, the court heard that Mr Foong had told Tan in December 2012 - after the six had been charged - that the only audit issue was the risk of non-payment by the bond issuer, and that he believed the investments were not sham investments, and may be construed as a junk bond at most.
The trial continues.