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Unsold CDs does not mean poor album sales: City Harvest Church member

Former City Harvest Church board member John Lam defended his claim in court that singer Sun Ho's success was a reason why he supported the church's investment into bonds issued by her artiste management company.

SINGAPORE: Just because City Harvest Church spent some half a million dollars to buy Sun Ho's unsold CDs in 2004, that did not mean her album sales were not doing well, said former church board member John Lam in court on Friday (Aug 8).

He was defending his claim that Ms Ho's success was a reason why he supported the church's investment into bonds issued by Xtron - her artiste management company. Lam is one of six church leaders accused of using church dollars to buy shams bonds to fund Ms Ho's secular pop music career.

On Monday, the prosecution pointed out that Lam should have known that far from having a track record of successful albums with high sales, Ms Sun's albums were losing money, and the church was having to spend large sums of money to buy up the unsold CDs.

He told the court that unsold CDs simply meant there was inventory left behind. After all, Lam said church founder Kong Hee had told the church board that sales of Ms Ho's album were good. In 2002, Kong also told the church that an earlier album of hers had sold some 150,000 copies, hitting double platinum sales.

Lam said the church board approved the purchase of the unsold CDs in 2004 with the intention of giving them to its overseas ministries and visitors. Lam added that this was a way to grow awareness of the success of the church's Crossover Project. The project - fronted by Ms Ho - is the church's way of evangelising through secular pop music.

Earlier in the day, he had also denied being a "rubber stamp" as a director of Xtron. The prosecution has argued that Xtron was not an independent, commercial entity operating at arm's length from the church. Lam insisted that as an Xtron director then, he would not have signed or approved anything that he did not believe in, even if it was asked of him by the church or Kong.

He explained that he had agreed to a stamp of his signature being made - to be used on Xtron invoices - only because he expected the staff to have verified that these were valid invoices. With Lam's evidence wrapped up, Kong is expected to take the stand when the trial resumes on Monday.

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