Ex-CHC fund manager knew Sun Ho's album would make losses

Ex-CHC fund manager knew Sun Ho's album would make losses
TRIAL: Ex-CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han (left) says he disbelieved Serina Wee's (centre) e-mail stating that Ms Ho Yeow Sun’s (right) album would make a loss.

SINGAPORE - He had previously said he refused to believe accountant Serina Wee's e-mail in 2007 that Ms Ho Yeow Sun's English album would make a loss.

After all, his spiritual mentor Kong Hee had told him otherwise, former City Harvest Church (CHC) fund manager Chew Eng Han had said.

On Thursday, Chew reiterated his stand in court.

But he was challenged by the prosecution, who charged that Chew actually took Wee's e-mail very seriously and that he lied to the court during his testimony.

Said Deputy Public Prosecutor Christopher Ong: "You are lying when you say you didn't take Serina seriously because you are trying to cover up the fact that you entered into the (Xtron) bonds knowing that they would not be repayable."

Chew, 54, who is representing himself after discharging his lawyer last May, disagreed.

Chew, CHC founder Kong, Wee and three others are on trial for misusing millions in church funds.

Since he took the stand last Monday, Chew said that he had always believed that the Crossover Project - CHC's mission to evangelise fronted by Ms Ho's secular pop music - would reap profits.

FALSIFIED

He said he only found out that her singing success was falsified after going through the e-mails and evidence.

Last Wednesday, he produced the e-mail sent in 2007 by Wee, who wrote that Ms Ho's English album, which was never released, would sell just 200,000 copies.

That would have yielded just $2.17 million, short of the $13 million that Xtron needed to pay off the bonds, he said.

On Thursday, when questioned by Mr Ong on the e-mail, Chew said that he had brushed off Wee's "ultraconservative" projection because Kong - who was based in the US by then - had told him that Ms Ho's album would do well.

"If Serina now comes in and gives me a figure that is different from what Kong Hee tells me, I would believe Kong Hee because he is the only person that can tell you the probability of the various scenarios."

Chew also said that Wee was prone to mistakes.

But Mr Ong pointed out that Wee's e-mail did contain the word "conservative", even though she was supposedly an "accountant who goes into the nitty- gritty".

He then asked if Chew had questioned Wee on the projections.

When Chew said he did not do so, Mr Ong said: "So you would... just completely ignore the e-mail she sends to you... and go along on the assumption that you know better because you've spoken to (Kong) but never actually seen the figure."

Mr Ong added: "I put it to you that when Serina gave you this projection... you accepted it and took it seriously because you knew that Serina, Tan Ye Peng and Kong Hee were the ones who were able to provide accurate information."

Chew disagreed.

The trial continues today.

ABOUT THE CASE

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and five others are on trial for allegedly misusing millions of church money.

First, $24 million was allegedly used to fund the music career of Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, whose stage name is Sun Ho. Another $26.6 million was then allegedly used to cover up the first amount.

They are said to have done so through "sham bonds" invested in two "shell companies" -music production firm Xtron and glass manufacturer Firna. Both companies were run by long-time supporters of the church.

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

The prosecution has sought to show that Xtron and Firna directors simply did the bidding of the accused.

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

rloh@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Feb 6, 2015.
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