Kong Hee and Tan Ye Peng were among the individuals who gave significantly out of their own pockets to cover the costs of the Crossover.
As one of the directors of Xtron Pte Ltd and a long-time member of City Harvest Church, Choong Kar Weng told the court this morning that he would never allow the church to bear loss, nor put the church’s money at risk.
The cross-examination of Choong resumed this morning with questioning by N. Sreenivasan, Tan Ye Peng’s lawyer, and Andre Maniam, the defense counsel for Serina Wee.
The safeguarding of church funds was raised when defense counsel brought up a loan schedule which was shown in court yesterday, listing individuals who were supposed to lend money to Xtron Pte Ltd to repay City Harvest Church for the termination of the advance rental license agreement after CHC had successfully acquired Suntec Singapore and no longer needed Xtron’s services to locate a worship venue. Xtron had a deadline of 60 days for this repayment. As some of the intended lenders could ultimately not make good on their loans, Kong Hee and Tan Ye Peng were among a number of church members who gave significantly out of their personal finances to repay the loan. Choong told the court that it was understood among the church leaders and members that they would never let CHC bear any loss incurred from the Crossover Project.
Defense lawyers established the definitions of the Great Commission and Cultural Mandate embraced by CHC as part of its mission. The first involves sharing the Gospel with the rest of the world and is one of the most fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith. The second is the call, as defined by CHC, for Christians to penetrate different aspects of society to serve others. Senior counsel N. Sreenivasan shared with the court that the Crossover Project started out in the Chinese market, in places like Taiwan, hence there was need for defendant Tan Ye Peng to be involved, as he pastored and still pastors the Chinese congregation at CHC.
Sreenivasan went on to establish that there was sound reasoning for Tan’s involvement in various aspects of Xtron, including cashflow and funding, because the Crossover Project was part of the church’s Cultural Mandate and hence a mission of every church member. He questioned Choong as to where the funding of the Crossover Project ultimately came from. Choong replied that it came from sponsorships by individuals who did not expect any returns. These individuals—members of the church—were well aware that Xtron was managing the Crossover. Tan would have at some point spoken to some of these sponsors and would have had to be aware of the funding situation.
Sreenivasan went on to comment that it was a very bold move of the church to use pop music to win the lost, to which Choong replied that, to him, living out one’s Christian values and excelling in one’s industry are not contradictory. The Crossover Project was just one way to fulfill the Cultural Mandate; other ways might be for Christians to excel in education or business.
Reading from the agreed statement of facts, Sreenivasan noted that, although it was not necessary, the Bond Subscription Agreement clearly stated the purpose of the bond, which was to fund the issuers’ music activities. This effectively committed the money to the Crossover Project. When asked why this was spelled out in the agreement, Choong replied that it was because there was nothing to hide.
Serina Wee’s lawyer, senior counsel Andre Maniam, was next to cross-examine Choong, and produced a folder of documents that showed email exchanges between Wee, co-defendant Chew Eng Han and Christina Ng, the lawyer from Drew & Napier, and later Rajah & Tann, who had drafted the original Xtron bond subscription agreement (BSA), the amended BSA, the Standard Chartered loan for Xtron’s purchase of Riverwalk and the advance rental license agreement between Xtron and CHC.
After a lengthy discussion about the admissibility of the documents and a break, court resumed with Maniam showing an email from Ng to Wee that reflected the workflow processes of Xtron, the fact that minutes of annual general meetings were pre-prepared and pre-dated, and this was normal practice. The email also showed that the lawyer was involved when it came to the financial assistance of Xtron directors when the share capital of the company had to be increased.
Maniam also showed the court from an email that it was Foong Daw Ching, the managing partner of Baker Tilly TFW LLC, who suggested using the same auditors for both CHC and Xtron. Foong made this recommendation based on the fact that he was the consultant partner for the whole CHC group of companies. Choong agreed that this would make transactions between Xtron and CHC more transparent and that Xtron and CHC would not have used the same auditors if there was an intention to hide things.
Court resumed at 2.15pm with the re-examination of Choong by the prosecution.
WHY IS THE MEDIA “PREVIEWING” EVIDENCE, ASKS SREENIVASAN
Before the morning’s proceedings began, N. Sreenivasan, lawyer for Tan Ye Peng, brought up to senior district judge See Kee Oon that in the media this morning, Foong Daw Ching was described as “not handling the church accounts” and that he “gave advice in his personal capacity”. As Foong is a witness for the prosecution who has not been called to the stand, Sreenivasan questioned why such a “preview of evidence” has occurred, and requested that the Investigating Officers and the prosecution clarify this incidence with Foong.
中文报道 – 城市丰收教会审讯：钟嘉荣表示教会资金从未置于风险中