Defence disputes that pastor lied

Defence disputes that pastor lied
City Harvest Church deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng

Tan Ye Peng's lawyer also submits new evidence

CITY Harvest Church (CHC) deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng closed an exhausting 16 days on the stand yesterday with an impassioned declaration that he and his wife had given everything they had to the church.

In wrapping up his re-examination of Tan, who is one of six accused of misusing church funds, Tan's lawyer, Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan, noted that his client had been on the stand for those many days, and asked if he had anything to clarify.

Sounding emotional, Tan said: "As I was on the stand... I remember a verse in the Bible that says, if a man does not stumble on his words, he is a perfect man. I want to say that I'm far from being perfect.

"I never intended to cause any loss to the church... I have not done any of these things for personal gain. I go back every night and do my prayers, I check my heart, and I can honestly say that I only wanted the church to benefit."

Tan faces 10 charges of criminal breach of trust of monies from the church's building fund and falsifying of accounts.

Five others connected to CHC, including church founder Kong Hee, also face various charges of misusing the church fund and covering up the misuse.

Tan added that he was glad all the monies that were invested have "all come back to the church" and the church did not suffer any losses.

Earlier in the day, the lawyer raised a point brought up by the prosecution, that Tan had lied to the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) to create a false impression that the church investments were secure.

Under questioning by the CAD in June 2010, Tan had told investigators that when the church was debating whether to buy bonds in music management company Xtron, its director, Mr Wahju Hanafi, had given a "personal guarantee" to make good any losses incurred.

But Mr Hanafi signed the guarantee only in March 2010, not when the idea of buying the bonds was first mooted in 2007.

Xtron managed pop singer Ho Yeow Sun, who is married to Kong.

The prosecution contends the bonds were sham, to disguise that church funds were being used to fund her career.

Mr Sreenivasan said: "It was put to you that you were lying to CAD... Did you subsequently tell the CAD that the document was signed in 2010?"

When Tan said he did not remember, Mr Sreenivasan pointed to his CAD statement, where he did, in fact, tell them the truth.

Mr Sreenivasan also made the point that, contrary to the prosecution's assertion, Xtron director Choong Kar Weng - along with Mr Hanafi - did not simply rubber-stamp deals.

Minutes from a board meeting in 2008 showed Mr Choong was not present, but Mr Sreenivasan submitted new evidence in the form of a BlackBerry exchange between him and Tan which showed he was there and in which Mr Choong asked to take part in more of such meetings.

Later, he asked his client about his position on the bonds being alleged as sham.

Tan said they were genuine investments with returns for the Crossover project.

He said: "That was what I had always understood."

This article was first published on April 16, 2015.
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