Kong Hee and Co: Judgment Day on Oct 21

Six Accused

AsiaOne reports,

City Harvest Church Trial: Judgment on Oct 21

After 140 days stretching over two years, the City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders’ trial is finally approaching its end.

State Courts Presiding Judge See Kee Oon will deliver his judgment on Oct 21.

CHC founder Kong Hee and five others are accused of misusing millions of church money.

Yesterday, the defence and prosecution presented their final submissions.

THE DEFENCE

KONG HEE

51, CHC founder and senior pastor

Faces three charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT)

Chief Prosecutor Mavis Chionh said on Monday that Kong was a well-practised liar who tried to put an innocent spin on his role.

But Kong’s lawyer, Senior Counsel Edwin Tong, said Kong was mostly overseas after 2007 and had relied on other staff members to handle the day-to-day church affairs.

He said: “The fact of the matter is that (Kong) was… relying on an organisational structure which… has reliance on professional advisers.”

SHARON TAN

39, CHC finance managerFaces three charges of CBT and four charges of falsification of accounts

Ms Chionh said Tan’s evidence that she was a hard-working, naive and ignorant church member was “deeply cynical and self-serving”.

Tan’s lawyer, Mr Paul Seah, said her motive was not criminal. All she wanted to do was to avoid audit issues.

“This is not a smooth operator or highly sophisticated wheeler-dealer…she had no corporate experience. This was her first real job.”

JOHN LAM

47, former board and investment committee member

Faces three charges of CBT

Ms Chionh accused him of being the “inside man” in ensuring regulatory authorities did not discover the true nature of the accused’s doings.

But Lam’s lawyer, Senior Counsel Kenneth Tan, said his client, who was occasionally roped in to handle specific financial issues, was no saboteur. “A faith in wanting to evangelise does not extend and… is incompatible to a faith that requires you to do something criminal, to cheat the church, which he and many of the co-accused love, to achieve a church end.”

CHEW ENG HAN

55, former CHC fund manager

Faces six charges of CBT and four charges of falsification of accounts

Ms Chionh said Chew’s defence was incoherent and contained many fundamental flaws and contradictions.Chew, who has 30 years’ experience in financial markets and is representing himself, said that what he did was common industry practice.

“I think they had better go and take some courses in financial markets before they throw insults at me,” he said of the prosecution.

TAN YE PENG

42, CHC deputy senior pastor

Faces six charges of CBT and four charges of falsification of accounts

As CHC’s No. 2, Tan’s attempts to shirk responsibility were “lies of a man without credit”, Ms Chionh said.

His lawyer, Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan, said Tan did not push any responsibility away, especially when it came to the structuring of financial instruments.Tan had, in fact, stepped up to take responsibility, he added.

SERINA WEE

38, former CHC finance manager

Faces six charges of CBT and four charges of falsification of accounts

Ms Chionh said Wee’s evidence was a “bare denial”. Wee’s lawyer, Senior Counsel Andre Maniam, stressed there was no dishonesty involved and she had believed they were legally entitled to do what she did.

“Yes, church funds were used, but they were used for church purposes.

“The prosecution has not alleged that any of the accused intended wrongful gain.”

They just say wrongful loss. What is that loss?”

THE PROSECUTION

The fundamental lie that made the use of the church’s building fund a crime was when church members and donors were told that it was meant to safeguard the money for future investments, said Ms Chionh yesterday.

“The donors to the Building Fund did not know that Kong Hee, Ye Peng, John, Eng Han and Serina had other plans… which were a betrayal of the trust placed in them.”

This led to the need to disguise the wrongful use as legitimate investments – the reason the sham Xtron and Firna bonds were created, she said.

But the greatest of these lies was the round-tripping of more church money to deceive the auditors by removing the bonds from the church’s accounts.

“Now they say they did not do so to put money in their own pockets. They say it was for a noble aim: to further the church’s evangelical purpose.

“But… the professed belief of the modern-day Robin Hood that he is stealing to further a greater social good in no way makes his theft any less a crime.”

ABOUT THE CASE

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and five others are on trial for allegedly misusing church funds through sham bonds.

First, $24 million was allegedly misused to fund the music career of Kong’s wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, whose stage name is Sun Ho, and another $26.6 million to allegedly cover up the first amount.

This was done through music production firm Xtron Productions and glass manufacturer Firna, both run by long-time church supporters, prosecutors said.

Kong, 51, former board member John Lam, 47, finance manager Sharon Tan, 39, ex-fund manager Chew Eng Han, 55, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, 42, and former finance manager Serina Wee, 38, face charges of criminal breach of trust and/or falsifying accounts.

The evidence trained the spotlight on the inner workings of the church and the ties of the accused with the Crossover Project, a church plan which sought to use Ms Ho’s secular music to evangelise.

Kong and the others have maintained that the church’s transactions were legitimate and they had acted “in good faith” on the advice of lawyers and auditors.

Source: By Ronald Loh, City Harvest trial: Judgment on Oct 21, AsiaOne, http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/city-harvest-trial-judgment-oct-21, Published 18/09/2015. (Accessed 21/09/2015.)



Categories: City Harvest Church

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1 reply

  1. Interesting to see the verdict.

    Like

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