Prosecution in CHC case: Documents created after event

SINGAPORE - It was 2008 and Serina Wee no longer held any official position in City Harvest Church (CHC).

Nor was she involved with Firna, a glassware manufacturing company based in Indonesia.

But behind the scenes, she was still pulling the strings for a deal between the megachurch and Firna, the prosecution insisted.

Prosecutors showed an e-mail by Wee to prove their assertion yesterday in the trial of the six CHC leaders.

Wee, CHC founder Kong Hee, and four others, are accused of misusing more than $50 million of church money through sham bonds.

Some of this money was allegedly used to fund the music career of Ms Sun Ho, who is married to Kong, 49, through two companies - music production firm Xtron and glass manufacturer Firna.

And the person managing the funds that would be channelled to CHC's Crossover Project was Wee.

This was suggested by Chief Prosecutor Mavis Chionh to former CHC board member John Lam, who was into his eighth day on the witness stand.

Lam, 46, is the first accused to take the stand.

The Crossover Project, fronted by Ms Ho, was meant to evangelise to non-converts through secular pop music.

In an e-mail dated September 2008, Wee had written: "Time is tight for Firna bonds.

"So no choice later on then cancel the convertible part."

After reading out the e-mail, Ms Chionh asked Lam why Wee, 37, who was not part of CHC or Firna, was giving instructions about the drawdowns of the Firna bond. CHC had invested $11 million of building fund monies in Firna.

Said Ms Chionh: "You didn't find it necessary to question Serina (Wee) on the role she was playing in the Firna bond drawdowns even though you admit you didn't understand.

"(It) was because you actually knew very well that she is the person administering the Crossover Project."

Lam replied: "I don't know."

Ms Chionh also pointed out that Wee had access to a document that Lam claimed was reviewed during a CHC Investment Committee (IC) meeting on Aug 5, 2008.

Lam had confirmed Wee was not part of the IC, and was not at that meeting.

Yet Wee was the one who created the document, which was a spreadsheet showing Xtron's finances, on Aug 8, 2008.

This was three days after the supposed committee meeting, said Ms Chionh. The spreadsheet was then sent to co-accused Sharon Tan.

Said Ms Chionh: "Your claim that the document... was given to the IC on Aug 5 is untrue because this documentary evidence shows clearly that the document was created on Aug 8."

STRANGE DOCUMENTS

It was not the only document that Ms Chionh said was "strange".

She pointed out that the minutes of a CHC board meeting allegedly on Aug 5, 2008, was recorded to have happened on July 29.

CHC received queries from its auditors on Aug 1, said Ms Chionh.

She told Lam: "You and your co-accused were planning to falsify paperwork to show the auditors that the church had assessed the Xtron bonds to be a good investment before making the investment and before the auditors asked."

Lam said he disagreed.

Lam was also chastised for telling Ms Chionh to direct her questions to his co-accused.

Said Ms Chionh at one point: "You must get away from this habit of when I ask you an uncomfortable question, (saying) that I better go and ask someone else because you are in the witness stand now."

The trial continues today.

You and your co-accused were planning to falsify paperwork to show the auditors that the church had assessed the Xtron bonds to be a good investment...

About the case

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and five others are on trial for allegedly misusing church funds through sham bonds.

This includes $24 million to fund Kong's 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.

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

Prosecutors had sought to show how Xtron and Firna directors had simply done the bidding of the accused. Meanwhile, the defence has argued that the transactions were legitimate, with the accused acting "in good faith" on the advice of lawyers and auditors.


This article was first published on August 07, 2014.
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