Prosecution witness confirms she was involved in the “what” but not always the “why” of transactions; defence points out restructuring of Xtron bonds were carried out by Rajah & Tann.
It was a long third day in the City Harvest Church trial, with the prosecution completing re-examination of its witness only at 6.30 on Monday evening.
Angie Koh Lee Ching, managing director of accounting firm Advante was the second witness called to the stand by the prosecution. Koh had worked as an accounting staff for Xtron, the production company that managed Sun Ho’s music career, before joining Advante as an accountant.
The prosecution, led by deputy public prosecutor Mavis Chionh, worked to establish that Koh did not always know why certain transactions were carried out in the accounting of Xtron, although she was aware of them and had accounted for them. Chionh also took Koh and the court on a meticulous line-by-line study of a number of Excel spreadsheets to explain Xtron’s bottomline projections.
It appeared from yesterday’s sessions that Baker Tilly was the audit company engaged by both CHC and Xtron during the period in question. Last week, first witness Lai Baoting confirmed that CHC’s auditor was Sim Guan Seng, the managing partner of Baker Tilly, while Angie Koh ascertained that Foong Ai Fang from Baker Tilly was the auditor for Xtron. It would appear that the auditors from Baker Tilly would have been privy to both sides of the transactions between CHC and Xtron—a $21.5 million redemption of Xtron bonds would likely have appeared in both CHC’s and Xtron’s books.
The lawyers for the defence pointed out that Foong, the auditor who worked on Xtron’s audit, had no issues with the bond agreement. She knew where the proceeds of the bonds went and what they were used for, and did not appear to have any issues with that. Koh’s replies echoed a number of things that the first prosecution witness, Lai Baoting confirmed, including Baker Tilly’s request that Xtron have an independent third party conduct a valuation of the bonds, and also their sign-off on the audits, which indicated they were satisfied as to the genuineness of the bonds.
Koh also revealed to the court that Singapore law firm Rajah & Tann had advised Xtron on the agreements and how to structure the bonds; the law firm also prepared the documents for the bond subscription agreement and the restructuring of the bonds.
AWARE OF THE CROSSOVER
While the prosecution made a case for Koh being unaware of the reasons for some transactions, the defence sought to establish that Koh had no difficulty with the genuineness of the transactions, that her superior Serina Wee had never asked her to keep details of the bond redemption a secret, or to hide them from the auditors.
It was also pointed out that Koh was aware that some of the bond proceeds went to the Crossover Project.
When asked about being a member of CHC, Koh confirmed that she had been an executive member. She also recalled attending meetings or services which discussed Sun Ho becoming a pop singer for the purpose of evangelism.
“Do you recall attending a meeting where Pastor Kong said, ‘It’s not her project, it’s our church project’?” asked the defence lawyer.
“Yes,” was Koh’s reply.
The defence also sought to explain the auditors’ confidence in Xtron’s viability: the company had a “worst case scenario” plan in the event of financial difficulty. Earlier, the prosecution had brought up the “emphasis of matter”, in which a company’s directors and creditors need to step in and “fill the hole” so that investors would suffer no losses.
Koh agreed with the defence’s point that Xtron was spending money on the understanding that should things not work out, then former Xtron director Wahju Hanafi would back up the Crossover project with his own money. Koh also confirmed that Hanafi made good the amount.
The case continues this morning at 10am with third witness Xtron director Koh Siow Ngea taking the stand.