Testimony of deputy senior pastor 'evasive, incoherent'

Testimony of deputy senior pastor 'evasive, incoherent'
Tan Ye Peng, deputy senior pastor of City Harvest Church (CHC), outside the Court for the CHC leaders trial on April 13, 2015.

For two weeks, City Harvest Church (CHC) deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng was grilled on the stand for his role in the alleged misuse of church funds, in the ongoing trial of six people connected to the church.

Yesterday, in wrapping up her cross-examination of Tan, Deputy Public Prosecutor Mavis Chionh accused him of lying and giving incoherent and evasive evidence during the fortnight.

In addition, Tan had "engaged in a series of lies and deceptions over the years to conceal the unauthorised misuse of the church's building fund".

Tan and five others, including church founder Kong Hee, face various charges of misusing $50 million of church funds and covering up the misuse. The prosecution contends that the church's building fund was used to finance the music career of Kong's wife, pop singer Ho Yeow Sun, through sham bond investments in music production firm Xtron and glass manufacturer Firna.

In going over evidence given by Tan on the stand, DPP Chionh noted he had "knowingly conspired" with Kong, former fund manager Chew Eng Han, former finance manager Serina Wee and former board member John Lam to enter into bond subscription agreements with Xtron and Firna for "a cover story" so they could channel CHC's building fund into Ms Ho's music career.

She said Tan had consistently lied to auditors, lawyers, and the court that the agreements were independent commercial arm's length investment transactions.

She described his testimony as "incoherent and evasive" about the redemption of the bonds. It is her contention that Tan and his co-accused redeemed the bonds early because they did not want it discovered that they were sham.

While Tan had said earlier that the church had called in the bonds as the auditor had given the impression to do so, he said yesterday that he formed the impression after reading an e-mail sent by the finance manager regarding the auditor and the bonds.

"Which is it exactly?" asked DPP Chionh.

Late in the day, to her allegations that he had been lying, Tan disagreed. He said: "The building fund was invested, like I say, with corollary purpose. First was for a good investment with a return, and the second purpose was for the Crossover Project (a vehicle for Ms Ho's music). So... I never thought that this was an unauthorised use of the building fund."

Tan will be re-examined by his lawyer, Senior Counsel N. Sreenivasan, today. Wee is expected to take the stand by tomorrow.

limyihan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on April 15, 2015.
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