Kong Hee: I was just ignorant

Kong Hee: I was just ignorant

He had claimed he was only helping out with liaisons and negotiations.

Why then did City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee ask for the title of managing director to be printed on his Xtron namecard? The prosecution yesterday argued that it showed Kong's control of the music production firm.

And that Xtron was a "shell company" used by Kong, Tan and four other CHC leaders for the funnelling of the megachurch's building fund.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Christopher Ong presented an e-mail sent in 2006 by Kong, who had asked then if his namecard could bear the title of managing director.

The prosecution team said the title meant decision-making capabilities - something that Kong claimed he did not have with the firm. Kong's request prompted his deputy, Tan Ye Peng, to dissuade him, saying it would cause issues with "related-party transactions". So why did he want the title?

Kong said it was to give him more credence for negotiations with the Americans on his wife's English album.

Kong had maintained throughout the proceedings that he only had "some control" and "some influence" over the firm. He also said yesterday that he was not, and did not want to be Xtron's managing director.

"I didn't work in the corporate world, so I guess as a pastor I was just ignorant when it comes to positions and titles," he said.

Mr Ong replied: "You have consistently told us... you have always been very conscious of the importance of directors (and) that decisions must be made by the directors of Xtron. So how could you possibly think that it's not a big deal?"

Mr Ong also presented other e-mails and said Kong had placed various church members in key positions in Xtron.

Kong disagreed and said he merely "nominated" them.

"It's up to them to decide if they want to be directors," he said.

WITHHELD INFORMATION

The prosecution is cross-examining Kong, who is the second accused to take the stand after former board member John Lam. Yesterday the prosecution also asserted that Kong and his co-accused had withheld information from auditors and their own committee members.

For example, Lam had said in an e-mail that he was doubtful of fellow investment committee member Charlie Lay and asked "to test him out while it's still early".

Said Mr Ong: "By keeping information about the bonds and about Xtron from his own investment committee members...(it would) avoid the possibility that they might ask more questions and eventually question the genuineness of the bonds."

It was the same for CHC's adviser, auditor Foong Daw Ching, said Mr Ong.

"You and your co-accused... would consistently go to Brother Foong, tell him an incomplete picture of what was going on between the church and Xtron... and you would use his responses to gauge ... whether the (auditor) would raise issues at the end of the year." Kong disagreed on both occasions.

The six accused are on trial for allegedly misusing more than $50 million of church funds.

Some of this money was allegedly used to fund the music career of Kong's wife, singer Sun Ho. (See report below.)

The trial continues today.

ABOUT THE CASE

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and five others are on trial for allegedly misusing church funds through sham bonds.

This includes $24 million to fund the music career of Kong's wife Sun Ho, and another $26.6 million to cover up the first amount.

They are said to have done this through music production firm Xtron and glass manufacturer Firna, which are run by long-time supporters of the megachurch.

Kong, former board member John Lam, finance manager Sharon Tan, ex-investment manager Chew Eng Han, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng and former finance manager Serina Wee face charges of criminal breach of trust and/or falsifying accounts. Prosecutors had sought to show how Xtron and Firna directors had simply done the bidding of the accused.

The defence has argued that the transactions were legitimate, with the accused acting "in good faith" on the advice of lawyers and auditors.


This article was first published on August 26, 2014.
Get The New Paper for more stories.

More about

City Harvest Trial
Purchase this article for republication.

BRANDINSIDER

SPONSORED

Most Read

Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.