Finance manager accused of lying

Finance manager accused of lying

SINGAPORE - City Harvest Church (CHC) finance manager Sharon Tan was yesterday, in her eighth day on the stand, accused of lying in the trial involving alleged wrongdoing by church officials and staff.

The prosecution said Tan lied when she claimed it was an outsider - an auditor - who had recommended that the church purge its books of its bonds in music production company Xtron.

Tan is one of six people, including founding pastor Kong Hee, accused of misusing $50 million of church funds to boost the music career of Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, and covering up the misuse.

The prosecution said all the accused, except Tan, channelled money from the church's building fund into sham bond investments in Xtron - which manages Ms Ho's career - and glass manufacturer Firna. Four of them, including Tan, then allegedly devised transactions to clear the sham bonds from CHC's accounts to throw auditors off the scent.

Earlier in the trial, Tan had said the source of the transactions was the church's auditor, Mr Sim Guan Seng, who said at a meeting in April 2009 that he "doesn't like the bonds" and they should be cleared off the church's books.

But Deputy Public Prosecutor Mavis Chionh challenged this, pointing out that it was not recorded in the minutes that he had said this at the meeting with deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng and board member John Lam.

Tan admitted it was not in the minutes, but maintained that Mr Sim had said this to her after the pastor and Lam left the meeting, and that she told them in an e-mail shortly after.

But DPP Chionh questioned how Mr Sim would have the power over church management to make this suggestion just because he did not like the bonds. Tan replied that, at the time, the mindset was to do what the auditors wanted.

DPP Chionh noted, however, that her e-mail to Tan Ye Peng and Lam did not mention that Mr Sim had told them to clear the bonds - further proof that she was lying about what the auditor had said.

Tan disagreed, pointing out how her e-mail stated that Mr Sim hoped to see "this (Xtron) issue being solved in this financial year". She said the statement referred to the Xtron bonds.

DPP Chionh said: "You are indulging in creative misinterpretation of the plain words of even your own e-mails in order to escape the lies that you have told about what Mr Sim supposedly said."

The DPP also repeatedly questioned Tan about why she would not admit to being the main contact for the audit team.

Auditors Foong Ai Fang and Mr Sim had testified that Tan was the point of contact when she took over as finance manager from co-accused Serina Wee. But Tan insisted that Mr Sim did not work with the audit team and had wrongly assumed she was the contact person.

DPP Chionh argued there was no reason for Mr Sim and Ms Foong to lie, and that Tan was simply trying to avoid being accused of more lies.

This article was first published on September 25, 2014.
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