Messages show City Harvest leaders scrambling to 'plug' hole

Messages show City Harvest leaders scrambling to 'plug' hole

SINGAPORE - A SERIES of BlackBerry messages and e-mails dated March 30, 2010 were produced in court on Thursday, showing how City Harvest Church leaders had scrambled to "plug" a financial hole before an extraordinary general meeting three weeks later.

It is not clear what caused the scramble. But earlier in the trial, prosecutors showed that in 2009, the church's external auditor Sim Guan Seng had raised concerns about the millions which had been channelled to church-linked companies, Xtron Productions and AMAC Capital Partners.

The series of messages on March 30 started with a message from church founder Kong Hee (in photo above).

7.30am: Kong sends a BlackBerry message to executive pastor Aries Zulkarnian and AMAC director Chew Eng Han, one of the accused. "Dear guys, if we have an EOGM on April 18, do we have time to plug the hole?"

9.02am: Chew replies: "It is too tight if we want the actual funds to have been paid."

9.03am: Kong replies: "Eng Han, when is the soonest possible?"

9.55am: Chew replies: "Pastor, I am thinking of another way, which may work better and make more sense... will revert by today okay?"

Minutes later, Chew asked accountant Serina Wee, one of the accused, for details on when Indonesian businessman Wahju Hanafi, had stepped down as director of Xtron.

He also asked her if Mr Hanafi had issued a personal guarantee for the bonds issued by Xtron during his time there.

Before 6pm, Wee sent an e-mail to Chew with two personal guarantees attached.

She wrote: "I tried my best but it is really a very technical document. Can you please help to read through and edit as necessary. I dated both Aug 15, 2007 before we first drew down $7 million bonds in 2007."

One of the guarantees was for Mr Hanafi to sign and indemnify Xtron from losses.

The state believes the bonds in Xtron, which managed the music career of Kong's wife Ho Yeow Sun from 2003 to 2008, were a sham.

Instead, the $13 million that the church invested in them were funnelled into supporting Ms Ho's singing career, it is alleged.

melodyz@sph.com.sg

Next page: Find out how $11 million was 'routed through several firms'

 

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