Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 01/17/2014 16:21 | By Channel NewsAsia

Longest-serving trustee of City Harvest Church called to testify

Longest-serving trustee of City Harvest Church called to testify

Longest-serving trustee of City Harvest Church called to testify

SINGAPORE: The longest-serving trustee of the City Harvest Church testified on Friday in the trial of the six leaders accused of misusing the church's Building Fund monies.

Under the prosecution's questioning, Mr Tan Yew Meng admitted that as a trustee, he approved documents and agreements that were endorsed by the church's management board and executive members.

Prosecutor Tan Kiat Pheng asked if he had refused to sign any documents and Mr Tan said "no".

The prosecution queried Mr Tan on whether he knew why the accused Chew Eng Han's investment firm, AMAC Capital Partners, was chosen by the church to act as its fund manager.

Mr Tan said it was due to Chew's financial expertise and track record.

But he later testified under cross-examination that he was comfortable with the choice of AMAC as the church's fund manager.

When asked by the defence, Mr Tan also agreed that it was up to AMAC to decide what it deemed fit, in terms of investments.

It is the prosecution's case that church founder Kong Hee and five deputies misused millions of the church's Building Fund monies, by channelling them into what they described as "sham bond investments".

The investments in question were made by AMAC and the bonds were issued by events firm Xtron.

Xtron used to be singer Sun Ho's management company.

It had issued S$13 million worth of bonds to the church through AMAC.

The prosecution alleges that Xtron was used by the accused as a financial vehicle to pump money into boosting Ms Ho's music career.

In relation to this, the prosecution referred to the subordination of the church's rights under the Xtron bond agreement to the bank.

Xtron had wanted a S$10 million loan from the bank to raise capital to buy a Riverwalk property.

But the prosecution pointed out that under that agreement between Xtron and the bank, if Xtron defaulted, the church would be in a vulnerable position.

When asked if he knew why Xtron was taking up a loan when it already had money from the issuance of bonds to the church, Mr Tan said no one explained it to him.

The court heard during cross-examination that Mr Tan agreed with the defence that it was not unusual for him to not be informed of the various transactions, since it was not under his purview.

The defence also sought to make the point that if Xtron had defaulted, it could have used the proceeds of the sale of the property to pay the bank loan. Mr Tan agreed.

The witness also agreed with the defence that there was "nothing sinister" about the agreement.

The trial continues.

- CNA/nd

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