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 Malay Mail Online reports,

City Harvest trial: Church leaders hid bank loan to buy property

SINGAPORE, Aug 30 — When rumours began swirling online after City Harvest Church had bought a multimillion-dollar stake in Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre, accountant Serina Wee’s brother voiced his concerns to her after he had read a blog post in March 2010.

In an email to co-accused Tan Ye Peng and Chew Eng Han about her brother Roland’s concerns, Wee — who is among six church leaders on trial for misusing church funds — said her brother was raising questions he felt any financially-trained person would have asked.

Mr Wee had asked about church-linked entity Xtron Productions, which had previously helped acquire property for the church. He said anyone looking at Xtron’s accounts would have asked where its S$6 million (RM15 million) share capital had come from.

Wee wrote in her email to Tan and Chew that she could not tell her brother that Xtron had taken a bank loan to purchase a property, The Riverwalk, and that it was the bank that wanted Xtron to have a certain amount in capital.

Yesterday, prosecutors grilled defence witness and church founder Kong Hee on why he and his co-accused had failed to tell the church board and executive members about Xtron’s bank loan of S$10.7 million to buy Riverwalk in late 2008 and the mortgage taken on the property. The board and members were instead told that the S$17.55 million Riverwalk purchase was funded by bonds Xtron issued to the church, when it was, in reality, funded by both the bank loan and bond proceeds.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Christopher Ong argued that the accused persons had wanted to conceal the fact that Xtron had already used S$13 million of the bond proceeds for the church’s Crossover Project, through which Kong’s wife Ho Yeow Sun embarked on a pop music career to reach out to non-Christians.

However, Kong denied the charge. He said he preferred to share as little as was legally possible about the Xtron bonds and how they were used to finance the Crossover because he did not want to affect Ms Ho’s legitimacy as a secular pop singer.

He also said he did not know why Wee could not tell her brother about the 2008 bank loan — one-and-a-half years after it had taken place.

The six church leaders face three to 10 charges each for using S$24 million of church building funds to invest in sham bonds in Xtron and Indonesian company PT The First National Glassware (Firna), before misusing another S$26.6 million to cover up the first amount.

The prosecution also sought to show that Kong, Wee, Tan and Chew had controlled when and how proceeds from the Firna bonds would be used. Emails produced showed Kong’s frustration when fund transfers to pay for the Crossover were held up in Firna owner and church member Wahju Hanafi’s bank account. Kong told Wee in an email in November 2008: “We really must impress upon (Mr Hanafi) the urgency of returning the money!”

The trial resumes on September 8 with Kong continuing to be cross-examined. ― Today

Source: City Harvest trial: Church leaders hid bank loan to buy property, The Malay Mail Online, http://www.themalaymailonline.com/world/article/city-harvest-trial-church-leaders-hid-bank-loan-to-buy-property#sthash.U7mcMC8b.dpuf, Published 30/08/2014. (Accessed 31/08/2014.)

Asia One reports,

Prosecution asserts Kong Hee never gave thought to Xtron expenses

SINGAPORE – Be bold. Spare no expense. Money is not a consideration.

These were phrases used by City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee in e-mails when he discussed the expenses for singer Sun Ho’s music career in the United States.

This was highlighted by the prosecution on Wednesday, as it continued its case that Kong and five other CHC leaders had misused church money through “sham bonds” invested into two companies – music production firm Xtron and glass manufacturer Firna.

Some of this money was allegedly used to fund the music career of Ho, who is married to Kong.

Previously during the hearing, Kong, 50, who is the second accused to take the stand, maintained that he had always been “conservative” when settling the budget for his wife’s English album.

But on Wednesday, the prosecution asserted that Kong was unconcerned with the expenses of Xtron, which was Ho’s artiste manager from 2003 to 2008.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Christopher Ong presented various e-mails sent in 2004 by Kong, who seemed to instruct American music producer Justin Herz not to hold back with the expenses for Ho’s American singles.

Kong said on Wednesday that he had said those words to Mr Herz because costs then were still “in the realm of reasonableness”.

“The Xtron directors… (were) more willing to spend the money because in those days the singles were… not as expensive as the eventual full album.

“When we moved to the albums, we are talking about multi-million dollars. From that point onwards, I became more and more conservative,” he said.

On Monday, Kong had said he did not know Xtron had to repay the $13 million bond money to CHC within two years after it was signed in July 2007.

on Wednesday, Mr Ong presented another e-mail, dated May 2008, which showed Kong telling Mr Herz that it would take six years to recoup the $12.45 million that was sunk into Ho’s English album.

Only Recoup in 2014

Mr Ong then asked Kong why he did not find out when the bonds were due to be paid back, given that Ho’s English album, which was never released, was slated to only recoup the expenses this year.

“Didn’t you hesitate and wonder, hang on, does Xtron need to repay the bonds before that? This would be a major change in the circumstances of the project budget.”

Kong replied that the maturity date of the bonds was not highlighted to him and he had then found the budget reasonable.

He added that former CHC fund manager Chew Eng Han had told him that the bonds could always be reissued.

Mr Ong then said: “I put it to you that when you were budgeting, you had no consideration for whether Xtron could repay the bonds because there was no intention… that Xtron would actually be responsible for paying the bonds.”

The prosecution also sought to prove that Kong and three of his co-accused were the ones controlling the use of Xtron’s funds.

For example, Kong had told co-accused Serina Wee, who provided accounting services to Xtron, to transfer $300,000 to Mr Herz on a short notice.

The court heard that up to half of that amount was to pay for a celebrity hosting a party held at the Hamptons in the US.

Kong said the Xtron directors, whom he said made the final decisions, were only told of this transaction when they were presented with the “Phase 5” budget two months later.

Said Mr Ong: “So there was no standing instruction that if an ad hoc payment like this – $300,000 is not a small amount – that the directors should be informed as soon as possible to confirm that they are okay with it?”

Kong said there no was “no standing instruction”.

The trial continued on Thursday.

Didn’t you hesitate and wonder, hang on, does Xtron need to repay the bonds before that?

– Deputy Public Prosecutor Christopher Ong asking Kong Hee about whether he thought about Xtron’s budget

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 allegedly fund the music career of Kong’s wife Sun Ho, and another $26.6 million to allegedly cover up the first amount.

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

Kong, former board member John Lam, finance manager Sharon Tan, ex-fund manager Chew Eng Han, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng and former finance manager Serina Wee face 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.

The defence has argued that the transactions were legitimate, with the accused acting “in good faith” on the advice of lawyers and auditors.

Source: Ronald Loh, Prosecution asserts Kong Hee never gave thought to Xtron expenses, http://news.asiaone.com/news/crime/prosecution-asserts-kong-hee-never-gave-thought-xtron-expenses#sthash.jev8wneO.dpuf, Published 30/08/2014. (Accessed 31/08/2014.)

[Watch this space]

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