SINGAPORE - For 20 years, auditor Foong Daw Ching was someone the leaders of City Harvest Church looked up to.
Yet, he "broke their hearts" by denying in court this week that he gave guidance the church relied on. This included the church's financial deals, which are at the centre of the trial.
This assertion by Mr N. Sreenivasan - lawyer for deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng - characterised Tuesday's proceedings.
The defence sought to show that Mr Foong, a partner at accounting firm Baker Tilly TFW, was only trying to save his own skin by disavowing intimate knowledge of the deals. Church members had gone to Mr Foong for advice since he led the City Harvest audit in 1993 when it was a young church, and he had not raised any red flags, the defence claimed.
"They looked up to you as a person with an extremely impressive (resume), as a well-regarded accountant and a church elder," said Mr Sreenivasan. City Harvest founder Kong Hee even solemnised the wedding of Mr Foong's daughter, the court heard.
"My client is in the dock and his life is in a mess. His instruction to me is that if you had told him what was right and what was wrong, he would have followed your advice... You are breaking his heart, the way you are denying things."
Mr Foong, however, hit back: "They know very well they come to me on an ad hoc basis... They are intelligent people. You paint (them) as though they are 21-year-olds."