CHC Trial: Wee 'engineered ways to help fund Sun Ho's career'

SERINA Wee helped City Harvest Church (CHC) pastor Kong Hee engineer ways to finance the career of his pop singer wife Ho Yeow Sun, the prosecution said in court yesterday.

It said that together with other church leaders, the former CHC finance manager devised three different schemes to channel money from CHC's building fund to Ms Ho's management company Xtron.

They finally settled on the third, which was buying $13 million in Xtron bonds in August 2007 - money that would pay for Ms Ho's United States album, the costs of which had increased significantly. 

Wee, 38, is part of a group of six church leaders accused of misusing church money to bankroll Ms Ho's secular music career.

They are charged with channelling $50 million from the church building fund into sham bond investments and covering up the misuse.

Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Christopher Ong took the court through a series of e-mail that showed church leaders had considered offering Xtron a direct loan of $2.5 million, and using the building fund to place a fixed deposit with Citic Ka Wah bank to facilitate an Xtron bank loan.

When those plans fell through, the group came up with the Xtron bonds to address the company's "serious cash flow problems", Mr Ong said.

"At some point, it was determined that going into these bonds was the best or, perhaps, the only option available to finance the expenses of Sun Ho's music career," said Mr Ong.

"You played a part in that because you were the one who did the cash flows and figured out that it would meet the needs of the expenses. Correct?"

Wee, on her ninth day on the stand, agreed but said she did not know if the bonds were the "only option available" to finance Xtron.

Several times yesterday, Mr Ong also accused Wee of lying on the stand.

In one instance, Mr Ong highlighted a 2007 e-mail that Wee sent to the church board and finance committee, seeking their approval to plough $9 million in church money into fixed deposits with Citic Ka Wah bank.

He said they were not told the full reason behind the proposal - which was to build a relationship with the Hong Kong bank so Xtron could obtain a bank loan.

"I put it to you that you are lying when you say the board was told the full rationale for the Citic Ka Wah fixed deposits," said Mr Ong.

Wee, who was calm and composed throughout, disagreed. She said even though the church board was not told explicitly, it had known since December 2006 that Xtron was raising funds for Ms Ho's album project.

In that context, the board was "aware", she said.

The trial continues into its 129th day today.

This article was first published on May 8, 2015.
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