'Kong had final say on funding Sun's career'

'Kong had final say on funding Sun's career'
City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee.

SINGAPORE - City Harvest founder Kong Hee was the "ultimate authority" when it came to the use of church funds for his wife Ho Yeow Sun's music career, alleged the prosecution yesterday.

Far from handling only the budget for his wife's planned American debut album, as he claimed, Kong made the decisions about "what money to spend, how much and where it would come from", said Deputy Public Prosecutor Christopher Ong.

In fact, Kong's budgeting approach to his wife's career was like a person who wants a Ferrari even when he can't afford it, said Mr Ong. Kong disagreed and maintained he had done his best to lower costs.

Even when the 49-year-old senior pastor was not directly involved in his wife's career, he closely supervised deputies, said Mr Ong, who produced a 2007 e-mail in which Kong berated fellow defendant and deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng for not ensuring his wife's China concerts were a success.

"The Beijing and Shanghai events cost us so much money... but at the end, who came? It was a joke!" said Kong in the e-mail. "Time wasted. Efforts wasted. Objectives not met. Money thrown away unnecessarily...We tried to save a few thousands on hotels and (threw) hundreds and thousands on result-less concerts."

"How I wish I can run the whole show the way I run our church in the last 18 years!" added Kong.

Kong, Tan and four others face various charges of misusing some $50 million of church funds to boost Ms Ho's career, and then to cover up the deed.

Several of the defendants including Kong allegedly cooked up sham deals for City Harvest to invest in, including bonds issued by Xtron Productions, which was Ms Ho's artist manager at one point.

Kong maintained that he had only a "general awareness" of how his wife's US foray was financed. But Mr Ong tried to show that Kong had been kept fully abreast of Xtron's cash flow problems, which would affect his wife's music career.


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