City Harvest Church financial oversight teams 'part of conspiracy'

City Harvest Church financial oversight teams 'part of conspiracy'

CITY HARVEST TRIAL

They were supposed to act as checks and balances within City Harvest Church to prevent the misuse of church funds, but the oversight committees and the management board were run by founder Kong Hee and his alleged fellow conspirators.

Several of them had also kept information from fellow committee members not within the conspiracy, to prevent them from discovering the misuse of funds.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Christopher Ong made these points yesterday to rubbish Kong's claim that the church's "internal control bodies", such as the audit and finance committees, would have stopped the alleged sham transactions if they were really so.

Mr Ong added that, contrary to Kong's claims that auditors and lawyers had vetted the deals, the professionals had been given "an incomplete picture" by the defendants and therefore could not have detected the alleged misuse of funds.

Kong and five others face various charges for their part in allegedly misappropriating some $50 million of the church's funds to boost the music career of Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, and then covering up the misdeed.

The alleged sham transactions had taken place from 2007 to 2009.

Mr Ong showed that in 2007, Kong himself was president of the church's management board, while fellow defendants Tan Ye Peng and John Lam Leng Hung were treasurer and secretary, respectively.

There were seven other board members.

From September 2006 to June 2007, a few months before the first alleged sham transaction was carried out, four of the five finance committee members were those facing charges now.

They are Tan, Lam, Chew Eng Han and Serina Wee.

Lam was also chairman of the audit committee in 2007, while Tan and the sixth defendant, Sharon Tan, were members, said Mr Ong.

He added that in 2007 and 2008, Wee was the church finance manager until Sharon Tan took over.

Mr Ong also produced e-mail between Wee, Chew and Lam in 2007 to show that they had discussed hiding information from two other finance committee members.

Chew, the church's investment manager at the time, had asked Wee to withhold information about the alleged sham bonds from one of them "who is not 100 per cent with CHC".

Kong disagreed with Mr Ong's statement that Lam had been helping to hide the bonds' alleged sham nature so that the two members would not eventually question whether the bonds were genuine.

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