SINGAPORE - City Harvest Church (CHC) was desperate to unravel an $11.5 million bond issue from The First National Glassware (Firna) to Xtron Productions because of a threat from an anonymous person to reveal the various transactions the church was involved in, the court heard on Thursday.
An e-mail from Indonesian businessman and CHC member Wahju Hanafi to his wife on March 26, 2010, said: “CHC has some serious issue from an anonymous px (person) who wrote in and threatened to open up all our connection with Xtron and Sun (Ho’s music) project, etc, so now they want to find quick cash to pay us so I can pay back AMAC’s bond issued to FNG (Firna).”
Mr Hanafi clarified to the court he meant the bond issue from his company Firna to Xtron, and not a bond issue from AMAC to Firna. In the agreed statement of facts between the prosecution and defence, it is stated that Xtron transferred $11.455 million to Firna on Dec 1, 2009, pursuant to a bond subscription agreement dated that same day between the two entities.
It is the prosecution’s case that this was a sham bond issue, forming part of an elaborate round-tripping scheme undertaken by CHC pastor Kong Hee, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng (Tan YP), former board member Chew Eng Han, former board member and former finance manager Serina Wee, board member John Lam and finance manager Sharon Tan.
All six are on trial for allegedly channelling the church’s building funds into Kong’s wife Sun Ho’s music career.
Mr Hanafi testified on Thursday that “they” who wanted to “find quick cash” were Chew, Wee, the two Xtron directors Choong Kar Weng and Koh Siow Ngea, and possibly Tan YP. DPP Tan told the court he believed the threat from the anonymous person prompted the sudden need to find cash to pay Mr Hanafi, so that he could redeem the bonds.
He produced a message from Kong to Mr Hanafi that said: “We are trying to raise the ($)12 million from our end.”
DPP Tan asked why, if the bonds were Mr Hanafi’s own personal liability, were Chew, Wee and the others trying to find cash for him?
“It should be the other way around, me finding quick cash, not them, (since) I’m the one owing them the money. I don’t understand this,” Mr Hanafi said.
“This is your own message,” DPP Tan pointed out.
“Yes, I know. I don’t understand it myself,” Mr Hanafi replied.
Asked who the anonymous person could have been, Mr Hanafi said he did not know; still, he could not resist taking a dig at the person who hacked into Ms Ho’s personal website a few days ago. “The anonymous person may be the same hacker that is hacking our website now,” he said.
DPP Tan also tried to show that a personal guarantee Mr Hanafi supposedly gave to indemnify Xtron against all losses incurred by the Crossover Project was not actually in effect at the time of the bond issue.
Mr Hanafi told the court he signed the personal guarantee on Aug 15, 2007. But DPP Tan produced minutes of an extraordinary general meeting of the church, which had Tan YP saying Mr Hanafi had signed the guarantee in March 2010.
It was unclear what the prosecution was attempting to prove with this line of questioning. Senior Counsel N Sreenivasan, who is defending Tan YP, asked DPP Tan to put a series of propositions to Mr Hanafi, the witness, as to what the prosecution’s case is.
DPP Tan pointed out that, in criminal trials, “there’s no such thing as asking the prosecution now to come up with its case” – a position the court agreed with.
The prosecutor also touched on another personal guarantee – given by Kong, Chew, Mr Choong and Mr Koh to Mr Hanafi – in exchange for Mr Hanafi’s guarantee. “Do you know why these four people were involved in signing this in favour of you?” DPP Tan asked.
“I suppose they are the four most influential, or at least the four that have the money needed to back up this guarantee,” Mr Hanafi said. “(Koh) Siow Ngea, I would say has the most money among the four of them . . . Pastor Kong also has properties, maybe worth a couple of million, and Pastor Tan has a property maybe worth about $1 million or more.
And Eng Han also has one property at least that is worth at least $1 million to $3 million.”The hearing continued on Friday.
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