City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders did not attempt to hide the fact that a company run by some of its members was involved in a project to evangelise through the music of founding pastor Kong Hee's wife.
Deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, 39, said this while on the stand yesterday - the 105th day of the long-running trial on the alleged misuse of $50 million in church funds.
He said the church's executive members knew about music production firm Xtron's involvement in the project, dubbed the Crossover, and why an external party was needed to run it. But he said all of this was not explicitly stated.
Tan, Kong and four others are accused of misusing $50 million in church funds to boost the music career of Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, and covering it up.
Five of them have also been charged with channelling money from the church's building fund into sham bond investments in Ms Ho's management company, Xtron, and glass manufacturer Firna.
Four, including Tan, then allegedly devised transactions to clear the sham bonds from the church's accounts to mislead auditors.
Tan's lawyer N. Sreenivasan set the stage for his client by saying that "there is this accusation that you all were hiding matters" from executive members.
He asked Tan if the executive members knew about Xtron's involvement in the Crossover project.
"Yes," replied Tan. "I think we may not have explicitly said it in a meeting with the executive members but, generally, they knew... The Crossover was a project that the whole church was involved in, and they prayed every week (for it).
"They were all aware of the sensitivity and that this was not going to be done by the church, it was going to be done by another company... Generally, everyone would know that Xtron is doing the Crossover," said Tan.
Mr Sreenivasan then asked his client to explain why the church's efforts to inform its members about Xtron's role had not been documented.
Tan said: "I feel that sometimes what is obvious is things that are not stated in black and white. If I had known in 2010 that I would be investigated, I would have noted everything down... These are things that, I think, it would be even more contrived if we were to note things down like that, as if we knew we would be investigated."
Midway through yesterday's proceedings, Deputy Public Prosecutor Mavis Chionh objected to the way in which Mr Sreenivasan was examining his client, saying he has "leading the witness". Ms Chionh is likely to conduct the prosecution's cross-examination of Tan next week.
The trial continues today.
This article was first published on March 25, 2015.
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