Tuesday, 24 September 2013

City Harvest Church Trial Saga

Trial’s second tranche focuses on church-linked firms

The City Harvest trial wrapped up its second tranche yesterday with Foong Daw Ching, whose accounting firm Baker Tilly TFW audited the church.

The 63-year-old’s eight days on the witness stand were marked by the phrase “I don’t recall” as both the prosecution and defence prodded him on meetings with church leaders and advice he had supposedly given the church as long ago as 2003.

City Harvest founder Kong Hee and five of his deputies allegedly misused S$24mil (RM60mil) of church funds to finance the pop music career of Kong’s wife, Ho Yeow Sun, 43, and another S$26.6mil (RM67.2mil) to cover this up.

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CHC trial: Auditor 'shouldn't shoulder all the blame'


After 20 days of hearings, the second part of the City Harvest trial drew to a close last Friday.

Auditor Foong Daw Ching, who had spent eight days on the witness stand, gave his testimony for the last time last week.

During re-examination by the prosecution, he agreed that the auditor should not shoulder all the blame if senior people in an organisation conspire to commit fraud and hide the traces.

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CHC trial saga continues

Prosecution witness Wahju Hanafi had insisted throughout the past four days on the stand that the money injected into his firm Firna, was from him and not the church.

In more emails admitted on Thursday, the prosecution pointed out that if this was the case, then he should not be asking church leaders, who are currently on trial, what he should do.

related:
Firna owner says firm was used to channel funds to boost Sun Ho's career
Emails regarding "secret letter" emerge during CHC trial
Former Xtron director admits he was not in control of his firm
City Harvest had control over Xtron's daily operations: prosecution
Role of trustees in the spotlight as trial of CHC leaders continues
Former Xtron director testifies about close relationship with CHC founder
CHC trustees gave investment firm power to negotiate, sign agreements: Jeffrey

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CHC trial: Hugs all round as auditor ends time on the stand

For the eight days Mr Foong Daw Ching was on the stand, lawyers for the accused in the City Harvest Church (CHC) trial were relentless in trying to tear down the auditor's testimony, claiming he was interested only in saving his own skin.

But on Friday it all ended in smiles, when Mr Foong hugged several of the accused.

"No hard feelings," the 63-year-old auditor told church founder Kong Hee as they embraced after the trial was adjourned to January.


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Auditor: God told me to speak to the judge

Court proceedings for the City Harvest trial kicked off on Thurday with a surprise request by prosecution witness Foong Daw Ching to tell the judge "something from my heart". Senior District Judge See Kee Oon allowed it.

Mr Foong said that while he was sleeping the night before, "this voice kept coming to me, and as a Christian, I believe this voice must be from God. He said, 'Son, speak to the judge.'"

The 63-year-old auditor said he was "hurt" that in the past few days, the defence accused him of distancing himself from City Harvest Church. He then pointed out that two of the accused had, in fact, taken advantage of him during a recent meeting.

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City Harvest Church Gave Pastor Roots and Wings

It is rare to find a church that is directly responsible for turning out independent and mature leaders. For Mr. Darren Tan, City Harvest Church (CHC) is spiritual home and a nest from which he takes off for ministry.

CHC ended Darren's, then a young army regular, long search for a church where he could experience God in a real way.

"When I got to know about City Harvest, I started to visit and it straightaway for me it was like home," he said to The Christian Post Wednesday in an interview. "It was almost everything that we (Darren and his wife) felt that God is leading us into."

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Singer Ho's over $500k in bonuses, advances


Pop singer Ho Yeow Sun received more than half a million in bonuses and advances, including a $30,000 birthday cash gift and an $80,000 "special performance bonus for hits in the US or the United Kingdom" in 2006.

But to divert attention from some of these extra takings, leaders of City Harvest Church allegedly doctored documents to show that sponsors had given the money to her as "personal gifts".

These details emerged on the first day of the second leg of the trial involving six church leaders accused of misusing millions of church funds. The high-profile trial had resumed after a three- month break.




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City Harvest trial: $2.2 million New York apartment for Ho Yeow Sun


City Harvest co-founder Ho Yeow Sun was to receive a $2.2 million apartment in New York while she was recording her album there. Her United States manager Justin Herz was also to receive millions of dollars in church funds to boost her US career.

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Singapore Pastor Misused Funds for Wife, Court Told

Singapore’s City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee conspired with five others to misuse S$50.6 million ($41 million) of the church’s funds to promote his wife’s music career, a prosecutor said at the start of a trial.

Kong and the others devised sham bond investments to embezzle S$24 million, money meant for a new church building, using most of it to finance Ho Yeow Sun’s pop singing work, prosecutor Mavis Chionh said today in a Singapore subordinate court.

Ho isn’t charged with any offence. Full story

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Ho needed 'secular face' to evangelise


City Harvest Church leaders did nothing wrong when they discreetly funded co-founder Ho Yeow Sun's pop music career through a series of companies, a court heard on Thursday.

The move was said to have been necessary so that the church could use Ms Ho, 41, to evangelise with a "secular face" in countries that do not welcome open gospel preaching.

"You need to be discreet in accessing these countries and spreading the gospel," Senior Counsel Kannan Ramesh put it to church auditor Foong Daw Ching. "You need to be somewhat creative and think a little bit out of the box in terms of how it should be achieved."


Pop singer wife stands by church founder Kong Hee
City Harvest supporters form queue outside courthouse before dawn
City Harvest trial: Kong Hee offered to step down to minimise conflict of interest
Despite police report, defiant hackers set up new anti-Kong Hee website


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'The sky's the limit' for Sun Ho


The sky's the limit when it comes to the Crossover Project. And only the best will do when it comes to pushing singer Ho Yeow Sun, the face of the project, to success in the US.

Started in 2002, the Crossover Project was City Harvest Church's (CHC) bid to position Ms Ho as a successful pop singer, so she could preach to those who do not usually associate themselves with the church and Christianity. But it doesn't stop there. The US was just a stepping stone to the ultimate goal: China.

In court on Wednesday, it emerged that church founder Kong Hee had big plans for his wife's US debut.

related:
City Harvest leaders: Nothing wrong about discreetly funding Sun Ho

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CHC trial: Sun Ho lost more than $14m on album


It was revealed in court yesterday that a loss of more than $14 million was incurred from the production of an album for pop singer Sun Ho.

Ms Ho is the wife of City Harvest Church (CHC) founder and pastor Kong Hee, who is on trial along with five other church leaders for allegedly funnelling $24 million of the church's funds into sham bond investments to further Ms Ho's career.

The Shin Min Daily News reported that the loss amounting to $14,372,654 was settled by Indonesian businessman Wahju Hanafi in a payment to Xtron Productions, a music production company that managed Ms Ho from August 2007 to August 2008.

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Sun Ho's music career

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