We are trying to catalogue what is said on various media outlets to discover what is revealed in the Singapore courts. Different news groups focus on different information emerging from court procedures. Therefore, it is our hope that we can provide readers with:
1. as much detail of the case as possible;
2. articles that news groups may remove over time;
3. act as a resource for curious readers; and
4. a tool full of Christian and secular articles on this case that outreach to Christian brothers and sisters to leave these controlling mega-cults.
If we have missed a news article, please email us.
The Straits Times reports,
City Harvest trial: Kong ‘did not care’ about recovering church loan
When $300,000 was needed for, among other things, a party in the upmarket Hamptons area in New York to promote his wife’s music career, City Harvest founder Kong Hee gave the go ahead.
But when it came to keeping tabs on how to repay the church loan that helped pay for it, Kong admitted in court yesterday that he lacked full knowledge.
He did not, for instance, realise Xtron Productions, which managed his wife Ho Yeow Sun’s pop career, had just two years to repay the $13 million it borrowed from the church.
He also did not know that his deputy John Lam Leng Hung, the church’s then investment committee chairman, failed to vet the loan to ensure the church’s interests were protected.
All this showed how little Kong cared about how the church would get its money back, even as he was planning to spend it on his wife’s singing career, Deputy Public Prosecutor Christopher Ong said yesterday.
“Let me be clear,” said Mr Ong. “You didn’t care about having to repay (the money).”
Lam had called a meeting to assess if amending the loan’s terms would enable the church to recover its money only almost a year after the loan was finalised, when auditors started asking questions, said Mr Ong.
He added that the meeting’s minutes were then backdated to make it seem as if the due diligence was done before the auditors raised their concerns.
Mr Ong also argued Kong was in control of Xtron.
Kong said none of this was true, and that he trusted his deputies to do the right things.
He said: “I trust my team. I trust John and that he wouldn’t do anything deceptive… I don’t believe he would do anything to deceive the auditor.”
Kong, Lam and four others face various charges for their part in allegedly misusing some $50 million of church funds to boost Ms Ho’s career, and then covering up the alleged misuse.
Kong said while he was only generally aware of the terms for the $13 million loan, he relied on others more involved in the transaction to alert him to any problems.
He denied he was in charge of Xtron, insisting its directors had the final say on the overall budget for Ms Ho’s planned United States debut album, which the church loan had helped finance.
For his part, he said he had been careful in his budgeting of the album. Relying on projections that it would sell at least 1.5 million copies, he believed Xtron would eventually be able to repay the church. “At the end of the day, there was always recoverability intended, genuine recoverability that was projected by top professionals from America,” Kong said.
Another key reason for his confidence, he said, was the guarantee given by long-time church member and Indonesian businessman Wahju Hanafi to underwrite losses from the church’s Crossover Project, which used Ms Ho’s secular music to evangelise.
Kong said Mr Hanafi gave him a verbal guarantee in 2002, and then put it in writing in 2010.
But Mr Ong argued that the verbal agreement was not included in the Xtron bond contract, or in the minutes of the meeting to discuss the loan. He also produced e-mail to show that Mr Hanafi himself faced financial trouble during the loan period.
But Kong said he was not concerned by this: Like “most millionaires I have met, (Mr Hanafi) is asset-rich and cash-poor… in my limited exposure to millionaires”.
Source: By Feng Zengkun, City Harvest trial: Kong ‘did not care’ about recovering church loan, The Straits Times, http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/courts-crime/story/kong-did-not-care-about-recovering-church-loan-20140828#sthash.nFOFSYQV.dpuf Published 28/08/2014, 6:58 AM. (Accessed 29/08/2014.)
TR Emeritus reports,
Kong Hee approves $150K party with Hollywood celebrities
At the City Harvest Church (CHC) trial yesterday (27 Aug), the prosecution charged that founder Kong Hee and his co-accused have direct control over Xtron, the artiste management company for Kong’s wife, Sun Ho.
Prosecution said that they decided when and how to use the funds in Xtron, which were derived from bonds issued by Xtron to CHC (i.e. monies lent to Xtron from the church).
Kong Hee and 5 other former CHC leaders have been charged with conspiring to misuse $50.6 million of the church’s funds to bankroll his wife’s music career – $24 million to fund her singing career and another $26.6 million to cover the tracks of the first amount spent.
Prosecutors said that the 6 devised sham bond investments to embezzle money meant for a new church building and used most of it to finance Sun Ho’s pop singing career. Sun Ho is not charged with any offence.
The court heard that even before CHC entered into the bond transactions with Xtron, Kong Hee had already made decisions concerning the financing of his wife’s music career. These decisions were made without the approval of Xtron’s directors.
The prosecution produced a 2006 email where Kong Hee approved a $300,000 “unanticipated payment” to an American music producer as an example. These included expenses for a party to “promote” Sun Ho in the Hamptons – a popular seaside resort in Long Island, New York. It has some of the most expensive residential properties in the US.
Many Hollywood’s biggest stars would spend their summers in Hamptons. Hollywood superstars like Gwyneth Paltrow and Sarah Jessica Parker call the Hamptons home during the summer, while Katie Holmes, Cameron Diaz, and more flock to the beautiful beach towns for summer getaways. Hamptons has become the hot spot for Hollywood stars with the fabulous parties, high-end shops, and scenic landscape [Link]. Perhaps Kong Hee sees his wife as an up and coming Hollywood star and wants her to mingle with Hollywood celebrities?
It was estimated that the party thrown by Sun Ho would cost between $70,000 and $150,000, with a “name celebrity” hosting the party.
Kong Hee admitted that he would usually approach his co-accused Serina Wee, who was then managing Xtron accounts, about such ad-hoc payments, and she would let him know if there was any money left over in Xtron’s budget for the Crossover Project.
In the case of the $300,000, the payment was later given the green light by the Xtron directors when the budget for the next phase of the project was approved. Kong Hee added that there were times he would be “scolded” by one of the directors Wahju Hanafi for “overspending the money”.
The prosecution pointed out that the Xtron directors were just “rubber stamps” for the expenses. Kong Hee refuted this.
Kong Hee denied that he was in control of Xtron, insisting that its directors had the final say on the overall budget in Xtron.
The prosecution also charged that Kong Hee’s lack of consideration in budgeting in May 2008 – especially with a 2-year maturity date on the Xtron bonds approaching – showed that he was “unconcerned” with repaying the bonds. This was despite the knowledge that the project would now take 5 to 7 years to break even, rather than 2 years as initially projected.
In his defence, Kong Hee said he had not been aware of the 2-year maturity date, and that the budget had been crafted with recoverability in mind.
The prosecution retorted, “You had no consideration for whether Xtron could repay the bonds because there was no intention on the part of you, Serina (Wee), (Chew) Eng Han, (Tan) Ye Peng and John Lam, that Xtron would actually be responsible for paying the bonds.”
The prosecution added that the repayment of the bonds was “just another cash-flow deficit” that Kong and his deputies would solve, to keep Sun Ho’s music career going.
All this showed how little Kong Hee cared about how the church would get its money back, even as he was planning to spend it on his wife’s singing career, the prosecution said.
Source: Editorial, Kong Hee approves $150K party with Hollywood celebrities, TR Emeritus, http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/08/28/kong-approves-150k-party-with-hollywood-celebrities/, Published 28/08/2014. (Accessed 29/08/2014.)