SINGAPORE - Foong Daw Ching, the external auditor who made a public video saying that no City Harvest Church (CHC) funds were ever used in the promotion of Sun Ho's music career, admitted in court on Thursday that the statement had been prepared by CHC, and that he had been pressured into reading it by the church.
Mr Foong, who is a co-founder of the firm now known as Baker Tilly TFW LLP, also told the court that he was not the lead audit partner for CHC's accounts at that time, even though he had said so in the video.
The video message, which was broadcast during CHC's 2003 annual general meeting (AGM) in April that year, was recorded in response to allegations made by a then-CHC member, Roland Poon, that church funds had been misused.
Mr Foong said, in the video, which was addressed to all CHC members: "I am the lead partner in charge of City Harvest Church's accounts. Having led the audit of City Harvest Church's accounts, it is my professional opinion that no church funds were ever used in the promotion of Ms Ho Yeow Sun's secular singing career and the accounts presented before this AGM are true and fair."
Mr Poon, who made the allegations in January 2003, had to retract them and print public apologies to CHC in five newspapers, costing him $33,372, according to the statement of facts agreed between the prosecution and defence.
Mr Foong admitted on Thursday he was not the lead partner in charge of the church's accounts in 2003, having told the court earlier that he was the lead partner only for the first year that the church was the public accounting firm's client - between 1993 and 1994.
Mr Foong, who spent much of his day on the stand not being able to remember the incidents he was being questioned on, said the church had come to him with a prepared statement they wanted him to read.
"Who was it who asked you to read the statement, do you remember?" asked chief prosecutor Mavis Chionh.