Firna boss took orders on use of bond money

Firna boss took orders on use of bond money
Mr Hanafi appeared worn down by the grilling he got from the prosecution.

SINGAPORE - POP singer Ho Yeow Sun was supposed to get a $2.2 million apartment in New York to live in while she was recording her music album there. Her United States manager Justin Herz was also to get millions of dollars in church funds to boost her US career.

All of this would have come from $11 million of sham bonds issued by glassware manufacturer Firna and paid for through the church's building fund, prosecutors claimed on Wednesday.

Producing e-mail after e-mail, the prosecution grilled Firna owner and long-time church member Wahju Hanafi, 53, on why he was taking instructions from one of the accused, accountant Serina Wee, on how to spend the church's bond investment money.

For instance, Wee had written to Mr Hanafi in one e-mail that US$500,000 (S$637,000) was to be transferred to Mr Herz in December 2008 "for the album and publicity expenses".

The message, capitalised, underlined and in large font, read: "This has to be done by 22 Dec. Kindly forward me the transfer receipt once it is done."

The prosecution also used e-mails exchanged between several of the accused to make its case that Mr Hanafi and his companies were puppets for the six accused. The companies referred to were Firna and Ultimate Assets, Ms Ho's Singapore manager.

"Do you know how the accounting and banking is going to work for Ultimate Assets and Firna?" Wee had asked fellow accused Chew Eng Han in an e-mail, to which he replied: "(Wahju) has a UBS banker to take instructions for Ultimate Assets. But you got to be the one really giving instructions, so ask Wahju to inform UBS about you operating the account."

But Mr Hanafi insisted that it was he who called the shots.

"It's my money," he said repeatedly, adding that he had refused to help buy the $2.2 million apartment as he needed the money more than Ms Ho did.

"It is my will, it is my choice, whether I want to buy somebody a house or I don't buy somebody a house."

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