CHC trial: Hugs all round as auditor ends time on the stand

CHC trial: Hugs all round as auditor ends time on the stand

For the eight days Mr Foong Daw Ching was on the stand, lawyers for the accused in the City Harvest Church (CHC) trial were relentless in trying to tear down the auditor's testimony, claiming he was interested only in saving his own skin.

But on Friday it all ended in smiles, when Mr Foong hugged several of the accused.

"No hard feelings," the 63-year-old auditor told church founder Kong Hee as they embraced after the trial was adjourned to January.

On Friday, the state shoot down key assertions made by the defence about Mr Foong's role in sham investments which the church allegedly made using its building funds to finance the music career of Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun.

Throughout this trial, Mr Foong has maintained that he gave the church only "general" advice on investments.

But defence lawyers claim that the six accused had "in good faith" relied upon him to provide professional guidance as he was a respected auditor at accounting firm Baker Tilly TFW.

They added that he should have given "complete advice" when they met him. The lawyers even likened the meetings to consultations with a doctor.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Mavis Chionh asked: "Do you think the doctor can give complete advice if the patient doesn't tell him all the symptoms?" She tried to show that the accused had given an incomplete picture to Mr Foong when they sought his advice in July 2008 on investing more of the church's money into Xtron Productions, which was managing Ms Ho's music career at the time.

That month, one of the accused, then church accountant Serina Wee, had told CHC leaders that Xtron would soon face a cashflow shortage and needed another $18 million on top of the $13 million the church had already invested.

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