Ex-Xtron director tells of close ties with Kong

Ex-Xtron director tells of close ties with Kong
Mr Hanafi (above) listed Kong first when asked to rank the six accused yesterday in terms of the closeness of his ties to them.

SINGAPORE - It was a friendship which blossomed after City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee invited businessman Wahju Hanafi to dinner to thank him for a $1 million donation.

They then went on several mission trips together, sharing a common goal to "win young people's souls in North Asia". They also decided to co-own a Sentosa Oceanfront penthouse for which they each pay monthly instalments of $17,000.

But it was also a friendship which cost him at least one business deal.

All these details were revealed on Friday by Mr Hanafi when he took the stand for two hours during the criminal trial of Kong and five of his deputies, who were charged last year with misusing about $50 million of church funds.

The State believes the church invested millions in sham bonds issued by music firm Xtron Productions and glassware manufacturer Firna, to illegally funnel church funds into the music career of Kong's wife Ho Yeow Sun.

Mr Hanafi, director of Xtron at the time, and the current owner of Firna, has been mentioned repeatedly in court this week in connection with various financial deals including the bonds at the heart of the trial.

When the 53-year-old Singapore permanent resident took the stand on Friday afternoon for the first time, the State focused its questions on his ties with the church and the six accused.

He said he met Kong in 1990 after he moved his family to Singapore and joined the church. Based in Papua New Guinea, he returns to Singapore to attend services almost every month.

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