Channel NewsAsia published the following two articles,
CHC leaders allegedly tried to conceal investments made
The City Harvest Church leaders accused of misusing church funds to finance singer Sun Ho’s music career had allegedly tried to conceal the kind of investments made.
SINGAPORE: The City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders accused of misusing church funds to finance singer Sun Ho’s music career had allegedly tried to conceal the kind of investments made.
On Thursday, the prosecution sought to show this through a chain of emails dated 12 October 2007, between three of the six accused — Chew Eng Han, Serina Wee and John Lam.
In the emails, the three discussed how they could withhold information from two parties — the church’s investment committee, as well as the church board members.
They talked about how the investment portfolio handled by Chew, who was at that time in charge of investing the church’s funds, will not be seen by the board members nor the investment committee of the church.
Chew said in that email that “only the auditor will see the whole portfolio.”
He added that this was “okay” as they have cleared it with the auditor, Mr Foong Daw Ching.
In the email, Chew also said: “I prefer this be kept within a small circle because of the proximity of Xtron (Productions) to Sun (Ho) and therefore to Pastor Kong (Hee). If one day someone turns away from CHC and becomes nasty, he may say all kinds of baseless things.
“The way we can do this is when you convene the committee meetings, begin to draft out the terms of the meeting given the new situation where monies are now managed externally. If the role is correctly spelt, we shouldn’t have to constantly face this potential problem.”
Lam then replied to the email saying: “Okay, then we go with your idea.”
However, Mr Foong testified on Thursday saying he never had such a conversation with anyone from the church.
In other emails between Chew, Wee and another accused person, Tan Ye Peng, Mr Foong’s name was also mentioned and he was said to have given them advice on bond transactions.
When asked, Mr Foong said he usually offers a very general comment, for example, how bonds ought to be disclosed in the financial statement.
He denied giving the accused specifics.
The prosecution is arguing that the emails were sent shortly after the first bond subscription agreement between AMAC Capital and Xtron Productions was signed in August 2007.
At that time, AMAC was headed by Chew and was tasked to invest the church’s monies, while Xtron was the management company of Ms Ho, who was involved in the Crossover Project.
The Crossover Project sought to reach out to the secular world through Ms Ho’s music.
The prosecution is trying to show that the accused were plotting to cover up their plans to channel money into Ms Ho’s singing career.
Mr Foong, who is from accounting firm Baker Tilly, also told the court on Thursday that he did not draft the statement he made in a 2003 video.
In that video, the witness declared no church funds was used to promote Ms Ho’s career and that all information presented to the church board members was “true and fair”.
When questioned by lead prosecutor Mavis Chionh, Mr Foong said the church had prepared the statement and rushed him to record it.
But when pressed for a name, Mr Foong said he could not remember who drafted the statement for him to read and who wanted him to make that video.
In January 2003, then church member Roland Poon alleged that church funds were used to finance Ms Ho’s career.
But he later retracted his allegations and made public apologies.
Mr Foong was then roped in to record a video declaring that Mr Poon’s allegations were false.
Earlier in the day, Mr Foong also took the court through the auditing and approval processes.
Testifying for a second day, Mr Foong told the court that the church has been a client of his since 1993.
He said church representatives Tan, Wee and either Lam or Chew would seek his opinions on matters like property acquisitions and advance rental payments.
The four, along with CHC founder Kong Hee and Sharon Tan, are accused of misusing S$24 million church funds to boost the music career of Kong’s wife, Ms Ho.
The trial continues.
Source: Claire Huang, Channel NewsAsia, CHC leaders allegedly tried to conceal investments made/http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/chc-leaders-allegedly/811664.html, 12/09/2013. (Accessed 15/09/2013.)
Second article ,
I did not advise accused to leave out information, says CHC auditor
The auditor of City Harvest Church testified on Friday that he did not advise the six leaders, who are now on trial, to withhold information from church members.
SINGAPORE: The auditor of City Harvest Church (CHC) testified on Friday that he did not advise the six leaders, who are now on trial, to withhold information from church members.
Mr Foong Daw Ching of accounting firm Baker Tilly said he had never asked the accused not to minute down everything in an extraordinary general meeting on August 10, 2008, where Xtron Productions (XPL) was discussed.
Xtron was the management company of singer Sun Ho, who is also church founder Kong Hee’s wife.
At that time, the church had invested heavily in Xtron through bond subscriptions.
On Friday, prosecutor Mavis Chionh brought up email chains among four of the accused, to show that they had consulted Mr Foong.
The four of the accused are — Kong, Serina Wee, Tan Ye Peng and Chew Eng Han.
In an email dated August 1, 2008, from Wee to the three others (Kong, Tan and Chew), she said Mr Foong approved of their “new plans” and advised them to “just minute down the necessary portions so as not to show too close a relationship or control over XPL (Xtron)”.
Wee added in the email that the four of them would have to “not paint the picture that CHC (the church) has full control but only some control over XPL”.
Mr Foong denied providing this advice.
The prosecution argued that Xtron was set up as a financial vehicle for the accused to channel money into Ms Ho’s music career.
Later in the day, the court heard that Kong had sent an email to Wee, Tan and Chew on July 29, 2008, asking them to come up with a solution for the projected shortfall in glassware firm Firna.
Firna is owned by Indonesian businessman Wahju Hanafi, who was one of the main supporters of Ms Ho’s music career.
Kong said in his email that Firna would be short of S$10.4 million if only a third of the estimated profit came through from Ms Ho’s expected album.
He also listed the timeline of when various transactions had to be completed, including when Xtron was to sell bonds to the church’s appointed investment firm AMAC and when Xtron was to redeem the S$13 million bonds.
The prosecution’s case is that Kong came up with the timeline of events for the others to follow, so as to facilitate the moving of monies.
Multiple emails between the accused were also raised in court, where Mr Foong was indicated as having given them advice on bond transactions and Xtron’s audit report.
However, Mr Foong denied doing so.
Kong, Wee, Tan, Chew, John Lam and Sharon Tan are on trial for allegedly misusing S$24 million of the church’s building fund to boost Ms Ho’s music career.
Source: Claire Huang, I did not advise accused to leave out information, says CHC auditor, Channel NewsAsia, http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/i-did-not-advise-accused/812428.html, 13/09/2013. (Accessed 15/09/2013.)