Deputy senior pastor denies lying about backdated guarantee

Tan Ye Peng

City Harvest Church (CHC) deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng lied during investigations to create a false impression that church investments were secure, said the prosecution yesterday in the ongoing trial of Tan and five others.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Mavis Chionh made the accusation in reference to the church's purchase of bonds in Xtron, the company which handled the music career of pop singer Ho Yeow Sun, who is married to church founder, Kong Hee.

The prosecution believes the bonds were sham, to disguise church funds being funnelled to fund Ms Ho's career.

DPP Chionh said when Tan was questioned by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) in June 2010, he told them that Xtron director Wahju Hanafi had given a "personal guarantee" when the idea of buying bonds from Xtron was mooted. The Indonesian tycoon and church member had guaranteed that he would indemnify all losses.

But in fact, said DPP Chionh, Mr Hanafi signed the guarantee only in March 2010, and not when the idea of buying the bonds was first mooted in 2007.

She said to Tan: "You were not just incorrect; you were actually lying to CAD, right? Because actually the guarantee was signed much later... and backdated."

Tan said he was not lying, or trying to give a false impression, but had remembered wrongly.

Ms Chionh also asked repeatedly why there was a need for Mr Hanafi to sign a backdated guarantee. Tan replied: "I didn't think so much during that time."

DPP Chionh said: "It's very strange that all these things that you didn't think too much about are actually very convoluted processes or frameworks.

"I'm suggesting to you, Mr Tan, that there was never any genuine intention for Wahju to be personally liable for the backdated guarantee he signed in 2010."

Tan and senior pastor Kong Hee are among six who face various charges of misusing $50 million of church funds and covering up the misuse. All but former church finance manager Serina Wee have taken the stand.

Earlier in the day, the DPP noted that Ms Ho's Chinese albums were making losses.

She highlighted an e-mail sent by Wee in 2003 in which Wee said that to be able to buy more CDs, as a last resort, "CHC can lend some cash unofficially to Xtron first". Tan said it was a "suggestion" and he did not know "that this was done".

"And you obviously don't have a problem with that because you don't raise any objections (in) any subsequent e-mail exchanges you have with her," said DPP Chionh.

This article was first published on April 8, 2015.
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