Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 05/16/2013 11:44 | By Channel NewsAsia

Former City Harvest Church accountant testifies in court

Former City Harvest Church accountant testifies in court


Former City Harvest Church accountant testifies in court

SINGAPORE: The trial of the six City Harvest Church leaders continues on Thursday with the prosecution's first witness giving evidence.

Taking the stand for a second day, former accountant at the church, Ms Lai Baoting, said she had to 'work backwards' to get the interest rate of a bond investment made by the church.

Emails and documents raised in court showed that City Harvest Church was investing S$5.8 million in the special opportunities fund of AMAC Capital Partners from October 2, 2009 to November 30, 2009.

A further S$5.6 million was invested in the same AMAC fund from October 15, 2009 to November 30, 2009.

The interest rate for the S$11.4 million investment was initially set at two per cent but in an email dated November 23, 2009, Ms Lai told AMAC's chief Chew Eng Han, who was then also the church's investment manager, that she worked out a new interest rate of 5.05 per cent per annum and the changes needed to be reflected in the two Tranche Papers.

On Thursday, Ms Lai told the court she 'worked backwards' to get the new interest rate after Sharon Tan, her then-supervisor, told her the interest to be received on November 25, 2009, would be S$76,625.

This series of events took place around the same period in October 2009, when the church redeemed the Xtron Productions and PT the First National Glassware bonds.

The prosecution's case is that the supposed returns from the AMAC investments were decided by the accused persons, so as to justify the purported investments.

Prosecutor Tan Kiat Pheng's point was that Chew Eng Han and Sharon Tan were trying to make the accounts tally.

And in doing so, Ms Lai had to work backwards to derive the new interest rate, since Chew asked her to decide on the interest rate.

On May 15, Ms Lai told the court that in two meetings, an auditor hired by the church, Mr Sim Guan Seng, had expressed concerns over the church's dealings with Xtron as well as AMAC.

Later in the morning, under the three defence lawyers' questioning, the court heard that Mr Sim expressed concerns over the dealings as he wanted to ensure the church's interest is protected.

Ms Lai on Thursday clarified that Mr Sim had not expressed concerns over the authenticity of those investments.

Ms Lai is testifying in the trial against six CHC leaders accused of committing criminal breach of trust.

The six are president of the church's management board Kong Hee, Vice-President Tan Ye Peng, board member John Lam Leng Hung, the church's investment manager Chew Eng Han and finance managers Sharon Tan Shao Yuen and Serina Wee Gek Yin.

Five of them - Kong Hee, John Lam, Chew Eng Han, Tan Ye Peng and Serina Wee - allegedly misused church buildings funds amounting to S$24 million by channelling the money into two companies, Xtron Productions and PT the First National Glassware (Firna), as what were described as "sham bond investments".

This allegedly took place between January 2007 and October 2008.

Four of them - Chew Eng Han, Tan Ye Peng, Serina Wee and Sharon Tan - are said to have misappropriated some S$26 million to cover up the first sum.

The same four church leaders also face four counts of conspiracy to falsify accounts, said to have happened between April and October 2009.

The funds were allegedly used to boost the music career of Kong's wife, Sun Ho.

- CNA/fa/xq

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