'Bro Foong' gave advice on hiding control

SINGAPORE - The City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders called him "Bro Foong", and it seems he was the one who advised them to hide how much control the church had over Xtron Productions.

Mr Foong Daw Ching's name was mentioned in court over the past two days after an e-mail revealed how CHC sought his advice in August 2008 in the lead-up to the church's Extraordinary General Meeting (EOGM).

The e-mail from Xtron finance manager Serina Wee to church founder Kong Hee and two of his deputies showed how she met Bro Foong, who advised her "not to paint the picture that CHC has full control but only some control over XPL (Xtron)".

In the e-mail, Wee added that Mr Foong had also told her not to "minute down everything" about Xtron at the EOGM so as "not to show too close a relationship or control" over the company.

The Straits Times understands that Mr Foong, then a founding and managing partner of CHC's auditor Baker Tilly Asia Pacific, was not handling the church's accounts. He gave the advice in his personal capacity.

Mr Foong, 63, now serves as the firm's regional chairman on a pro-bono basis. A Church of Singapore member, he is also chairman of St Luke's Hospital and director of Jurong Hospital.

Defence lawyer Michael Khoo yesterday asked Xtron director Choong Kar Weng if it was fair to say that if there was anything amiss with CHC's accounts, Mr Foong, who had been sitting on the advisory committee of the Commissioner of Charities, would point it out.

Mr Choong said it was fair.

In April 2003, when Mr Foong was in charge of auditing CHC's accounts, he made a public video statement that in his professional opinion "no church funds were ever used in the promotion of Ms Ho Yeow Sun's secular singing career".


Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.