City Harvest trial: Manager 'only had church at heart'

City Harvest trial: Manager 'only had church at heart'
City Harvest Church finance manager Sharon Tan (left) and founding pastor Kong Hee are among six people who are accused of misusing $50 million of church funds to boost the music career of Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, and covering up the misuse.

SINGAPORE - City Harvest Church finance manager Sharon Tan wanted only to protect the church's interests when she got involved in alleged plans to round-trip church funds.

In fact, the 39-year-old was so dedicated to helping the church secure premises for services that she brought work to the hospital when she was about to give birth in January 2010, the court heard yesterday.

"All of us worked very hard for the building, to the extent that when I had my third son... I worked on the hospital bed. The moment I was discharged, I continued to work," Tan told the court while she was questioned by her lawyer.

"Never have I had any intention to cause any loss to the church."

Tan is one of six people, including founding pastor Kong Hee, who are accused of misusing $50 million of church funds to boost the music career of Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, and covering up the misuse.

The prosecution believes that all of the accused, except Tan, channelled money from the church's building fund into sham bond investments in Xtron, which is Ms Ho's management company, and glass manufacturer Firna.

Four of them, including Tan, then allegedly devised transactions to take the sham bonds off City Harvest Church's accounts so as to throw the auditors off.

Yesterday, she rejected the prosecution's earlier suggestion that the four had used the building project as a "cover story" to pump money into Xtron.

Instead, Tan continued to insist that the main aim of the transfer had been to defray rental costs and cut down on fund-raising. Lawyers were consulted and the church board gave its approval, Tan maintained.

Asked by her lawyer, Senior Counsel Kannan Ramesh, why she had become involved in the plans, Tan said that she had "embraced" the "vision" of the Crossover Project to use Ms Ho's pop music to evangelise.

She even included one of the singer's songs, Fancy Free, in her BlackBerry messaging user name.

Asked why she did so, she replied: "I want to remember that whatever I'm doing is for the purpose of the Crossover Project."

After being on the stand for 14 days, Tan was the third defendant to finish giving evidence after former board member John Lam and Kong.

The trial will continue on Jan 26 next year, with former fund manager Chew Eng Han next in line to tell his side of the story.

Dates lasting up to June 12 have been fixed for the hearing, which began in May last year and has gone on for 88 days.


This article was first published on October 3, 2014.
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