CHC trial: Prosecution say e-mail highlight alleged dishonest acts between accused

CHC trial: Prosecution say e-mail highlight alleged dishonest acts between accused
Prosecution witness Mr Wahju Hanafi (centre) has been linked to accused (clockwise from top right) Serina Wee, Chew Eng Han, Tan Ye Peng and Kong Hee.

SINGAPORE - One second is all it takes to press the send button and fire off an e-mail or mobile phone message.

But that electronic dispatch lives on for much, much longer.

And years later, it can be submitted as evidence in court, as in the City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders' trial, where founder Kong Hee and five others are accused of misusing more than $50 million of church funds through sham bonds.

Their defence lawyers are arguing that there was no wrongdoing as the bond investments are common business practices.

But the way the money was channelled through a series of church-linked companies was dishonest, the prosecution countered.

As the courtroom drama plays out, e-mail and text message exchanges have been highlighted to detail the alleged insider knowledge about fund movement among the accused.

For instance, the prosecution pointed to e-mail exchanges from accused Serina Wee, who called investment gains from transactions "our money", which contradicted Indonesian tycoon Wahju Hanafi's stance that the funds were under his control.

The New Paper understands that about 100 pieces of digital evidence have been submitted so far. We follow the electronic trail.

Computers Seized

Acting on a tip-off, officers from the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) raided CHC in May 2010.

They seized computers and documents from the church's offices, visited individuals and firms related to the probe and took away records and accounts.

E-mail and messages were scrutinised.

They also spoke to Kong and other people involved in handling the church finances.

In June last year, CAD officers arrested Kong at his Sentosa Cove penthouse in a predawn raid. Four others were also nabbed around the same time.

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