Throughout her time on the stand so far, Serina Wee always spoke in a calm and measured manner.
But yesterday, that coolness was shattered as she addressed the court regarding her love for City Harvest Church (CHC).
In an emotional five-minute speech, former CHC finance manager Wee, 38, told the court she would never do anything that could harm her church.
"I love my church a lot and I would not do anything illegal to put myself, my leaders and my church family at risk," she said.
Wee, CHC founder Kong Hee and four others are accused of misusing millions of church money.
First, $24 million was allegedly channelled from the church's building fund to finance the music career of singer-pastor Ho Yeow Sun; then $26.6 million to cover up the initial amount. (See report above.)
Wee, who has been on the stand for four days, is the last accused to testify.
Yesterday, she recounted that she joined CHC about 20 years ago and decided to give her life to Christianity.
"As a young Christian, I desired in my heart that one day I could become a church staff (member)," she said.
The opportunity was presented to her after she graduated from Nanyang Technological University with a degree in accounting.
Wee then joined CHC's accounts department in August 1999 as an assistant accountant.
"When I had the chance to do so, it was a like a dream come true to me. All I wanted to do was to serve God," she said.
She added she was not a pastor or a preacher and the one thing she enjoyed doing and could do reasonably well was accounting.
In 2005, she was promoted to finance manager, a post that she held for two years before moving on to set up her own accounting firm, Advante.
"I took my work seriously. Whatever I did, I did to the best of my abilities. I just wanted to play a part to help my church fulfil the call of God."
Wee also maintained what she and her co-accused had done were legal and proper.
She added she had trusted co-accused Chew Eng Han's expertise, having earlier told the court it was Chew who told her to come up with a personal guarantee document in 2010 for CHC member Wahju Hanafi to sign.
She also said Chew told her to backdate the document to 2007 - just before the $13 million Xtron-CHC bonds were signed.
Wee later said: "It never crossed my mind that whatever we were doing could possibly be violating the law."
She added her pastors were always thinking of the church and would never do harm to it.
"I just want to say, lastly, that I will not be in this predicament today if not for the vision of City Harvest Church.
"But when I think about the many lives that were touched because of City Harvest, because of the Crossover (Project), I'm just thankful that I had a part to play in it," she added.
Her lawyer, Senior Counsel Andre Maniam, then wrapped up the examination-in-chief as Wee was seen dabbing the corner of her eyes with a piece of tissue.
The other defence lawyers are expected to cross-examine Wee when the trial resumes today.
ABOUT THE CASE
City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and five others are on trial for allegedly misusing church funds through sham bonds.
First, $24 million was allegedly misused to fund the music career of Kong's wife Ho Yeow Sun, whose stage name is Sun Ho, and another $26.6 million to allegedly cover up the first amount.
They are said to have done this through music production firm Xtron Productions and glass manufacturer Firna - both companies run by long-time supporters of the church.
Kong, former board member John Lam, finance manager Sharon Tan, ex-fund manager Chew Eng Han, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng and former finance manager Serina Wee face charges of criminal breach of trust and/or falsifying accounts.
Prosecutors had sought to show how Xtron and Firna directors simply did the accused's bidding.
The defence has argued the transactions were legitimate, with the accused acting in good faith on the advice of lawyers and auditors.
This article was first published on April 29, 2015.
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