- POSTED: 20 Sep 2013 23:06
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The second tranche of the six City Harvest Church leaders’ trial drew to a close on Friday after the lawyers sped through their questioning of the church's former accountant.
SINGAPORE: The second tranche of the six City Harvest Church leaders’ trial drew to a close on Friday after the lawyers sped through their questioning of the church's former accountant.
Auditor Foong Daw Ching from accounting firm Baker Tilly took the stand for the eighth day.
When re-examined by prosecutor Mavis Chionh, he testified that the use of the church's building fund to pay for the Crossover Project is not right.
Earlier, defence lawyer Andre Maniam -- who represents Serina Wee, one of the six accused -- had raised an email from church staff Wong Foong Ming.
In that email, Miss Wong said that concerts and overseas travel expenses of singer Sun Ho should be charged to the church instead of Ms Ho's management company which is linked to the church.
This is because Ms Ho, who is the wife of church founder and accused person Kong Hee, is part of the Crossover Project -- which serves the church's mission to reach out to the secular world.
Mr Foong had agreed with Mr Maniam's argument.
However, when given the scenario that the church's building fund is meant for the purchase of church property, and asked to clarify his earlier testimony, Mr Foong said monies from the building fund cannot be used to pay for Crossover Project's expenses.
He added that payment should come from the church's general fund.
In addition, he also clarified on the advice given on bonds.
Using the analogy of a doctor, Ms Chionh asked if a doctor can give complete advice if the patient does not reveal all symptoms. Mr Foong said that from his experience, the doctor would not diagnose other problems.
Previously during cross-examination by the defence, the court heard that the accused would seek advice from Mr Foong on Xtron bonds, including the impairment of those bonds.
Xtron, which was Ms Ho's former management company, has close links to the church.
It is one of the few firms alleged by prosecution to be used by the accused as a financial vehicle to commit "round-tripping" through "sham bond investments".
Referring to various emails exchanged among the accused, the prosecutor then asked the witness if he considered it relevant to be given those information.
In particular, that Xtron was only able to redeem S$10 million of the S$31 million bonds by October 2010, according to one estimate.
To this, Mr Foong said to be given this would be "fair information" and that it was something the accused would have to share with him for him to know.
Previously, during defence counsel Kenneth Tan's questioning, Mr Foong agreed that he advised the accused to draft an investment policy and invest in bonds.
On Friday, Mr Foong clarified that he did not initiate investing church funds in bonds and private company bonds -- and that the accused were the ones who brought it up in the first place.
The court also heard of how Mr Foong agreed that not all investments made by charities, including churches, seek to yield profit.
The defence was arguing that these investments may be made to further the church's mission.
Kong and five of his deputies are facing misuse of church funds allegations.
They are said to have used some S$24 million to finance the music career of Ms Ho.
The third tranche of the trial is to start in mid-January 2014 and expected to last for more than six weeks.
The prosecution is expected to wrap up its case in that tranche, with at least five more witnesses expected to testify.