Ex-CHC fund manager wonders why there is a charge for criminal breach of trust

Ex-CHC fund manager wonders why there is a charge for criminal breach of trust
Chew Eng Han

He was shocked when he was charged with falsifying accounts in 2012.

Former City Harvest Church (CHC) fund manager Chew Eng Han claimed he had never tried to hide anything from auditors.

Even when his co-accused told him to clear the Xtron Productions and Firna bonds off the church's books, he claimed he did it legally.

"I'm just puzzled as to how there can be falsification when the auditor himself agreed on the outset," he said.

Chew, 54, is one of six CHC leaders accused of misusing millions of church money to fund the music career of singer-pastor Ho Yeow Sun through "sham bonds" invested into two companies - music production firm Xtron and glass manufacturer Firna.

Yesterday, Chew, who is representing himself after discharging his lawyer last May, said CHC finance manager Sharon Tan had told him that auditor Sim Guan Seng wanted them to clear the Xtron bonds off the church's books.

CHC deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng later told him to redeem the Firna bonds as well, Chew said.

Chew said he was initially resistant because he felt it was not time to redeem the bonds.

"Never was it a case where I was so fearful that we're going to get found out because these are...sham bonds," he said.

He said the "round-tripping" exercise carried out was legitimate and that banks often transfer money to one another through intermediary banks.

"I also wonder why is there a charge for criminal breach of trust (which Chew is also facing). I understand CBT to be a misappropriation of money with the intention to cause loss to the owner of the money.

"But if money goes one round from CHC to AMAC, to UA, to Firna and back to CHC, surely there can be no loss to the church."

OTHER EVIDENCE

Chew also presented other evidence yesterday to prove that he was always meticulous and looked after CHC's financial health in other areas such as the church's property search.

For example, he said that CHC, through Xtron, was trying to strike a deal with the Mulia Group from Indonesia for a joint venture to buy a stake in Suntec Convention Centre in 2008.

But Chew baulked when the Mulia Group quoted too high a price, in which CHC would have to pay $16 million a year. The deal was called off in the end, he said.

It was the same when it came to the Crossover Project, CHC's tool to evangelise unchurched youth through Ms Ho's secular pop music.

Chew maintained he had always thought of the Crossover Project as a "money-making venture", as he had at the time believed in Ms Ho's success.

For example, Chew even brushed off a projection made by Serina Wee in a 2007 e-mail 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, Chew said.

"I didn't take her seriously. Yes, it's for missions, but we cannot be reckless with the money like this," he said.

But Chew found out otherwise later on, and told the court on Tuesday that Ms Ho's singing success had been falsified.

The trial continues today.

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