On 15 May, all eyes will be on one of the country’s most-anticipated trials involving six key members of City Harvest Church.
SINGAPORE: On 15 May, all eyes will be on one of the country’s most-anticipated trials involving six key members of City Harvest Church.
The six, including founder Kong Hee, are accused of misappropriating millions of dollars to fund the music career of his wife, Sun Ho.
In May 2010, the Commercial Affairs Department launched investigations into certain financial transactions of City Harvest Church.
In June 2012, five of its church leaders were charged in court.
They were – president of the church’s management board Kong Hee, vice-president Tan Ye Peng, board member John Lam Leng Hung, investment manager Chew Eng Han and finance manager Sharon Tan Shao Yuen.
In July 2012, finance manager Serina Wee Gek Yin became the sixth member to be charged.
The six leaders are accused of committing criminal breach of trust.
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 bond investments.
The misappropriation allegedly took place between January 2007 and October 2008.
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 conspiring 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.
Leading the prosecution is Mavis Chionh, who will be assisted by five others. They are Mr Tan Kiat Pheng, Mr Christopher Ong Siu Jin, Ms Grace Goh, Mr Joel Chen and Mr Jeremy Yeo.
As for the defence team, five of the six accused persons are represented by senior counsel.
Tan is represented by Senior Counsel Chelva Rajah and N Sreenivasan, Lam by Senior Counsel Kenneth Tan and Mr Nicholas Narayanan, Chew by Senior Counsel Michael Khoo, Sharon Tan by Senior Counsel Kannan Ramesh and Mr Jeffrey Ong, and Wee by Senior Counsel Andre Maniam.
Kong is the only exception and he is represented by Mr Edwin Tong.
Channel NewsAsia understands the prosecution will be calling about 10 critical witnesses, while the others have yet to be confirmed as of 6 May.
Details are not known, but accountants and individuals from Xtron and Firna are expected to take the stand, with at most three witnesses slated to appear in the first tranche of the trial.