Evidence you have given is false

John Lam (right) crossed swords with Chew Eng Han in court as the latter tried to discredit his earlier assertion that it was Chew’s idea to cook up the alleged sham deals that landed the six accused in court.

SINGAPORE - Fingers were pointed at him as he sat quietly in court the past two days.

Yesterday, co-accused Chew Eng Han, who is defending himself after having dismissed his lawyer in May, went on the offensive.

The former City Harvest Church's (CHC) fund manager shot back at fellow accused John Lam.

Lam, a former CHC board member, 46, had said that it was Chew's idea to set up music production firm Xtron Productions.

Yesterday, Chew, 54, showed Lam two e-mails. One was from another accused, CHC Deputy Senior Pastor Tan Ye Peng, about starting the events company.

NO GRAND VISION

He told Lam: "I'm putting it to you right now that I didn't approach you, I didn't have this grand vision of a media events company.

"I had a full-time job. I was not into entertainment, nor into concerts. I'll put it to you that the evidence you have given to the court that it was my idea is false."

Lam later admitted: "Based on this e-mail, it will suggest that it was not you who thought of the idea to set up Xtron."

Chew and Lam, along with City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee, 49, are among six church leaders who are accused of misusing more than $50 million of church money through sham bonds. (See report on right.)

Lam was the first to take the stand when the trial resumed on Monday.

Chew's confrontation with Lam was not the only tense moment during Chew's cross-examination of his fellow accused.

Even before he began questioning Lam, he asked defence lawyers for copies of the documents.

During the proceedings, he was also stopped a few times by the defence lawyers and Chief Prosecutor Mavis Chionh over legal procedural issues.

State Courts Presiding Judge See Kee Oon had to step in and explain to Chew the right procedures.

Chew also asked Lam whether he thought CHC was a "risk taker". When Lam asked if he was referring to a specific area, Chew said: "Almost every area?"

Chew then cited an instance when, on behalf of CHC, he invested $2.2 million of church funds into the Superbowl stock sometime between 1998 and 1999.

Pausing before he answered, Lam said: "There was some concern at that time once I realised all 2.2 (million) was put into one stock... Yes, it is a risk taker."

The trial continues today.

ABOUT THE CASE

City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee (above), 49, and five others are on trial for allegedly misusing more than $50 million of church funds through sham bonds.

This includes $24 million to fund Kong's pop singer-wife Sun Ho's music career, and another $26.6 million to cover up the first amount.

They are said to have done this through two companies run by long-time supporters of the megachurch - music production firm Xtron and glass manufacturer Firna.

Kong, former board member John Lam, 46, finance manager Sharon Tan, 38, former investment manager Chew Eng Han, 54, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, 41, and former finance manager Serina Wee, 37, face varying charges of criminal breach of trust (CBT) and/or falsifying accounts.

The defence started its case on Monday, with Lam the first to take the stand.

Prosecutors had sought to show how Xtron and Firna directors had simply done the bidding of the accused and rubber-stamped deals.

Meanwhile, the defence has argued that the transactions were legitimate, with the six accused acting "in good faith" on the advice of lawyers and auditors.


This article was first published on July 17, 2014.
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