City Harvest trial: Ex-fund manager again denies any wrongdoing

City Harvest trial: Ex-fund manager again denies any wrongdoing
Chew Eng Han said he had no reason to hide anything as it was clear to him that the money would be going to Ms Ho’s music.

FORMER City Harvest Church fund manager Chew Eng Han yesterday again denied wrongdoing over alleged sham bonds used to cover up the misuse of church funds, reiterating that he had merely carried out the ideas of his leading pastors.

Chew was being cross-examined by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Christopher Ong, as the long-running trial of six church leaders - including Chew and founding pastor Kong Hee - entered its 99th day yesterday after a month-long break.

The six are accused of misusing $50 million in church funds to boost the music career of Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, and covering this up.

The prosecution also believes that five of them channelled money from the church's building fund - made up of donations by church members towards a new church building - into sham bond investments in Ms Ho's management company, Xtron, and glass manufacturer Firna.

Four of them, including Chew, then allegedly devised transactions to clear the sham bonds from the church's accounts to mislead auditors.

DPP Ong sought to show that building fund monies had been diverted to finance Ms Ho's career - an unauthorised purpose of the fund which, he said, Chew had been trying to "disguise" by shrouding the transactions in secrecy and neglecting to check for approval from the church's board.

But Chew disagreed, saying that he had no reason to hide anything as it was clear to him that the money would be going to Ms Ho's music.

As the instructions had come from his senior pastors, who are also church board members, he had not questioned their legitimacy nor the desire for discretion.

"Questions are being put to me, Your Honour, as if I have a duty when it comes to corporate governance, that a fund manager needs to ensure that the whole board knows everything," said Chew.

"But that's not how it works between a fund manager and a corporation or the board of a corporation. The fund manager will work with usually one key person, maybe the CEO, and he takes instructions from the CEO.

"It's up to the CEO now, how he conducts his corporate governance and works things out and gets the required approval," he said, referring to the chief executive officer.

To him, Chew added, if key board members such as Kong and co-accused deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng said yes, that was sufficient approval.

In response, DPP Ong said: "I put it to you that you are being disingenuous and merely seeking to evade responsibility for your culpability for these bond investment charges, when you try to portray yourself as just an innocent fund manager taking instructions from Kong Hee and Tan Ye Peng."

The trial continues today.

hpeishan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Mar 17, 2015.
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