DPP to Kong Hee: You swept everything under the carpet

DPP to Kong Hee: You swept everything under the carpet

Your house was dirty, so you swept everything under the carpet before a visitor dropped by unexpectedly.

That was how the prosecution described the relationship between City Harvest Church (CHC) and Xtron Productions yesterday.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Christopher Ong referred to a 2010 e-mail that had CHC founder Kong Hee calling for "the Xtron problem to be solved".

Mr Ong asserted: "There was a need to clean up whatever transactions there were between the church and Xtron so that the issue of the church... financing the Crossover Project through Xtron would be eliminated."

But Kong told the court yesterday during his cross-examination that he had done so in 2010 because CHC was bombarded with hate mail, attacked by bloggers on its connection with Xtron and questioned by authorities.

This was just after the church purchased a stake in Suntec Singapore, he said.

And one way to "protect the church from unnecessary issues" was to have Xtron, which was CHC's property manager, return the advance rental that the church had paid to it, he said. Court documents showed that Xtron repaid CHC $40.5 million by October 2010.

Kong also said that Indonesian tycoon and CHC devotee Wahju Hanafi was asked to cover the album expenses of Kong's wife Ho Yeow Sun, whose stage name is Sun Ho, which totalled $30 million and was borne by Xtron, after he had allegedly promised to do so.

AVOID QUESTIONS

Said Mr Ong: "Essentially, you wanted to sweep all the transactions with Xtron under the carpet to avoid any questions from the authorities."

Kong responded that the DPP had made their plans sound "so sinister" and added that he had consulted CHC's adviser, auditor Foong Daw Ching, on CHC's transactions with Xtron.

"I asked a scrutiniser of the house to come and check, and he said the house was not dirty. I just didn't want any visitor to come. That's all."

Mr Ong also questioned Kong why he feared the authorities if the church's transactions had been checked by auditors and lawyers.

Kong said he just wanted to prevent any misunderstanding that something was amiss.

Kong and five other CHC leaders are on trial for allegedly misusing more than $50 million of church funds.

Some of this money was allegedly used to fund the music career of Sun Ho, through Xtron and glass manufacturer Firna.

Yesterday, the prosecution also sought to prove that Kong and his co-accused had control of Firna.

Mr Ong presented an e-mail showing that Mr Hanafi, who owned Firna, had been asked to re-sign bond certificates of denominations of $3 million, $2 million and $1 million.

Said Mr Ong: "This is more like Wahju and his father-in-law handing you gift vouchers that you can use whenever you need to meet Crossover expenses."

But Kong said: "I don't think they are gift vouchers. If anything, it shows that they are just making good the commitment to use the bond proceeds to support the album production."

The trial continues today.

rloh@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on September 09, 2014.
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ABOUT THE CASE

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and five others are on trial for allegedly misusing church funds through sham bonds.

This includes $24 million to allegedly fund the music career of Kong's wife Ho Yeow Sun, whose stage name is Sun Ho, and another $26.6 million to allegedly cover up the first amount.

They are said to have done this through music production firm Xtron and glass manufacturer Firna, run by long-time supporters of the church.

Kong, former board member John Lam, finance manager Sharon Tan, ex-fund manager Chew Eng Han, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng and former finance manager Serina Wee face charges of criminal breach of trust and/or falsifying accounts.

Prosecutors had sought to show how Xtron and Firna directors simply did the accused's bidding.

The defence has argued that the transactions were legitimate, with the accused acting "in good faith" on the advice of lawyers and auditors.

 

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