Deputy senior pastor's evidence unbelievable: DPP

Deputy senior pastor's evidence unbelievable: DPP
City Harvest Church deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng

The prosecution yesterday labelled evidence given by City Harvest Church deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng as "unbelievable" in the ongoing trial of Tan and five others over the misuse of church funds.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Mavis Chionh did not buy Tan's insistence that Indonesian tycoon Wahju Hanafi was using his own money to fund a project to spread the Gospel through the music of church founder Kong Hee's wife, pop singer Ho Yeow Sun.

It is the prosecution's contention that church building funds were used for thisvia sham bond investments in firms owned by Mr Wahju.

On the stand for the 13th day, Tan maintained that Mr Wahju, the owner of Firna as well as Ultimate Assets, and former director of music production firm Xtron, was a "very firm supporter" of the project, called the Crossover.

But Ms Chionh called into question the phrasing in an e-mail sent in 2009 by Serina Wee, the church's former finance manager, in which she referred to Mr Wahju "owing" them a sum for the Crossover Project.

Wee had sent the e-mail to Tan, Kong and former fund manager Chew Eng Han. All four face charges, along with two others.

Ms Chionh said: "If it is Wahju's money... it makes no sense for you and the others to talk about him owing you the money... He's entitled to delay sending the money for as long as he likes - or, in fact, to change his mind and not send it at all."

But Tan said it meant Mr Wahju had committed the sum.

He said: "If Serina uses the word 'owe'... she's just keeping an account of how much has been sent and how much has not yet been sent."

Ms Chionh also asserted that Firna's role was, likewise, "simply that of a conduit used for passing money" from the church's building fund to bankroll Ms Ho's music career.

She brought up an audit meeting in April 2009, in which Tan said auditor Sim Guan Seng had given him the impression that the church needed to redeem its Xtron and Firna bonds to get them off the books.

Tan said: "Mr Sim didn't force us, but... I know that his preference was that we shouldn't have bonds, and there would be difficulty in valuing these bonds."

The DPP then asked how he had that impression, as Mr Sim had not stated the requirement explicitly.

Tan replied: "It was from Mr Sim's... facial expression, he's very emphatic about it."

Ms Chionh said that if the investments were genuine, they would not have redeemed them based on a facial expression. "I'm putting it to you, Mr Tan, that it is unbelievable."


This article was first published on April 11, 2015.
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