Application to refer 2 questions of law rejected

Application to refer 2 questions of law rejected
Sharon Tan Shao Yuen, City Harvest Church board member, was among four other church leaders charged with the misuse of church's funds to finance the music career of Ho Yeow Sun, the wife of Kong Hee, founder of City Harvest Church.

CITY HARVEST TRIAL

The City Harvest Church trial resumed briefly yesterday when one of the defence lawyers asked for permission to refer two questions of law to the High Court.

But the application was rejected, with the prosecution describing it as "frivolous and without any merit".

Chief Prosecutor Mavis Chionh also asked that defence lawyers alert the prosecution as soon as possible if they intend to file any more applications before the trial resumes in two months. "That way we can avoid, or at least minimise, any disruption to the progress of the trial," she said.

The high-profile trial against church founder Kong Hee and five others for misuse of church funds, which started last May, will resume on July 14 after being adjourned earlier this month with the judge saying the accused had a case to answer.

Yesterday's application had been made by Mr Kannan Ramesh, lawyer for church finance manager Sharon Tan, one of the accused.

He wanted to clarify whether another accused, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, could be considered to have control of the church's funds solely because he was a church board member, when the board had been collectively given control.

The second question was whether Tan Ye Peng's board member status was enough to show he had control over the funds in the way of his "business as an agent".

Both questions were related to Sharon Tan's own criminal breach of trust (CBT) charges.

Mr Ramesh said: "If these questions are answered in favour of my client... she should not have to open her defence in relation to the charges."

Presiding Judge of the State Courts See Kee Oon rejected the application, ruling that legal requirements to make the application had not been met.

He had also previously agreed with the prosecution's argument that, in the absence of special circumstances such as the board delegating its powers to specific members, each board member had control over the church's property.

zengkun@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 22, 2014.
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