The six accused City Harvest leaders give closing submissions

This article helps recap what the charges are against the six accused, provides a quick summary what their alleged crimes were about and what was revealed in court. This below article was published on the 11th of September.

The New Paper report,

City Harvest leaders give closing submissions

Sep 11, 2015 6:00am BY RONALD LOH

The City Harvest Church leaders’ trial entered its final leg yesterday as the defence presented their closing submissions.

The trial will continue on Monday, with the prosecution expected to give its closing submissions.

CHEW ENG HAN

Faces six charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and four charges of falsification of accounts

The real sham is not the bonds but singer-pastor Ho Yeow Sun’s music career and album, said Chew Eng Han yesterday.

The former City Harvest Church (CHC) fund manager accused Kong Hee of using church money to buy Ms Ho’s Mandarin albums thereby inflating its sales figures.

Chew, who is representing himself after discharging his lawyer last year, also accused CHC founder Kong Hee of personally gaining from the bond proceeds. He said about $200,000 was given to Kong between 2007 and 2008, citing two e-mails that were earlier presented to the court during the trial.

But Chew, who left CHC in 2013, said the church’s transactions were legitimate and were approved by lawyers and auditors.

“If we are going to defraud them, (why) still check with them how to do it?”

The defence and prosecution had both agreed at the start of the trial that there was no personal gain involved.

KONG HEE

Faces three charges of CBT

There was no intent by CHC founder Kong Hee to cause wrongful loss to his own church, said Kong’s lawyer, Mr Jason Chan.

Kong had repeatedly called for the church’s transactions to be cleared with lawyers and auditors.

He also applied his mind to the budgeting of the Crossover Project – which was the church’s evangelical mission fronted by Ms Ho’s music career – to ensure that the money invested would be repaid.

Earlier during the trial, the prosecution had charged that the accused had relied on Serina Wee’s projection that Ms Ho’s English album would only sell 200,000 copies – which would have yielded just $2.17 million, short of the $13 million that Xtron needed to pay off the bonds.

Yesterday, Mr Chan said that this 200,000 figure was a “low” projection in a scenario-planning exercise.

Mr Chan pointed out there were also “medium” and “high” figures of 400,000 and 800,000 respectively in the e-mail.

JOHN LAM

Faces three charges of CBT

Former CHC board member John Lam was merely a volunteer who was doing his duties for the church, said his lawyer, Senior Counsel Kenneth Tan, yesterday.

Lam, a church member since 1993, served as treasurer, secretary and in the CHC investment, audit and finance committees. He was also not privy to all the discussions regarding the church’s transactions.

He added that Lam did not see any cashflow projections until July 11, 2008, which was after the church had signed the first set of bonds with music production firm Xtron Productions. Lam was also only consulted when there was a problem to be solved.

SHARON TAN

Faces three charges of CBT and four charges of falsification of account

CHC finance manager Sharon Tan earlier admitted during the trial that she backdated CHC board meeting minutes.

But her lawyer Paul Seah argued that his client did not intend to commit a criminal act. If anything, it was a case of poor corporate governance, he added.

While Tan was on the stand during the trial, she broke down on three occasions.

But Mr Seah said yesterday that his client’s emotional side showed that she did not have any intention to do anything nefarious.

“What does she have to gain? Nothing. But what does she have to lose? Everything,” he said.

TAN YE PENG

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

CHC deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng had relied on the instructions and advice of Kong and Chew, said his lawyer, Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan.

He rebutted the prosecution’s assertion that Tan had simply accepted any advice without questioning.

“Chew Eng Han knows what he’s doing and he’s got a track record (in the financial market).

“(The prosecution said Tan) should have grilled him, but that’s not the way friends and church members behave.”

SERINA WEE

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

Why was Wee keeping track of the money after it was invested into glass manufacturer Firna?

Because the money was supposed to eventually go into the Crossover Project and monitoring its movement was the responsible thing to do, said her lawyer, Senior Counsel Andre Maniam.

He added that Firna bond could not have been a sham given that Firna’s chief financial officer was tasked by the company’s owner – Mr Wahju Hanafi, a long-time CHC supporter – to keep a proper record of the investment.

“The Firna accounts reflect that it’s real,” Mr Maniam said.

He also said that Wee and the others were prepared to personally take on the liability of the bonds.

“This is a very odd ‘conspiracy’. People normally conspire to escape liability but (the prosecution) said they conspired to take on liability,” he said.

About the case

City Harvest Church (CHC) 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 Ho Yeow Sun, whose stage name is Sun Ho, and another $26.6 million to allegedly cover up the first amount.

The prosecution charged that they did this through music production firm Xtron Productions and glass manufacturer Firna. Both companies are run by long-time supporters of the church.

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 relationships between the accused and the Crossover Project, a church plan which sought to use Ms Ho’s secular music to evangelise.

Throughout the past 137 trial days, Kong and the others have maintained that the transactions, which the prosecution alleges were shams to illegally use church money, were in fact legitimate; and they had acted “in good faith” on the advice of lawyers and auditors.

Source: By Ronald Loh, City Harvest leaders give closing submissions, The New Paper, http://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore-news/city-harvest-leaders-give-closing-submissions, Published 11/09/2015, 6:00am. (Accessed 24/09/2015.)



Categories: City Harvest Church

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1 reply

  1. Thanks for sharing this as it keeps me posted with the Kong Hee and CHC controversies.

    Like

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