He claimed not to be very involved, Foong was copied in a series of CHC emails concerning Xtron and CHC audits and related party transaction matters.
“Your Honor, I don’t recall” was heard a number of times in court this morning as deputy public prosecutor Mavis Chionh continued her examination-in-chief of witness, Foong Daw Ching.
Foong is a managing partner of Baker Tilly TFW LLP, an established auditor with extensive experience when it comes to church audit matters. He told the court yesterday that from time to time, local churches would approach him over the years on audit-related matters.
Foong maintained that such discussions are not in-depth and these groups that come to him are usually not charged a service fee. Should the discussion become too technical, Foong said that he would refer them back to proper audit channels. Foong also claimed that he had poor knowledge of bonds and investments and told the court that while he vaguely remembered a group of people from CHC coming to him to discuss some matters, he could not recall who they were and what was discussed in that meeting. He believed that it was general matters and that it was likely that Wee might have been one of them.
Foong was sent a paper by Tan Ye Peng on July 21, 2008, setting out in detail the relationship and transactions between Xtron, AMAC and CHC. In particular, the paper stated that the Xtron bond proceeds would be used to pay for Sun’s American album production which could potentially bring in a S$96 million profit over six years. However, Foong said he does not remember reading this.
Chionh produced an email sent from Serina Wee to John Lam, Chew Eng Han and Tan Ye Peng. In this email, Wee gave a summary of a discussion she had with Foong in July 2008, which covered fair value and impairment of bonds, plus their disclosure. The summary of Wee’s discussion with Foong apparently also included rental of Expo and Riverwalk through Xtron and the disclosure of transactions between Xtron and CHC to auditors, among other matters.
Chionh also showed Foong another email in which Wee informed Lam, Tan and Xtron director Choong Kar Weng that she was going to meet “Bro Foong” to go through their concerns with him.
The DPP then brought out a follow-up email sent out after Wee had met with Foong.
In this email, Wee said in the email that Foong’s replies were favorable and that he had some advice for them. These included:
– Not mentioning at an extraordinary general meeting that the Xtron directors were not drawing a salary as this did not make commercial sense.
– Chew coming up with a way to safeguard CHC’s interest by way of convertible bonds into Xtron worth S$18 million.
– Not to paint a picture showing that CHC had full control but only some control over Xtron, as full control would invite consolidation of both entities.
– Not to minute down everything mentioned in the EOGM regarding Xtron, only the necessary portions, so as not to show a close relationship between Xtron and CHC.
– To ensure that all things done by CHC are commercially justifiable.
Additionally, Wee also shared with the recipients of this email that Foong had mentioned to her that he had spoken to the Commissioner of Charities to explain that churches fulfill the Great Commission differently these days, and it would be hard for churches to achieve their objectives if they had to fully disclose everything.
Wee mentioned that Foong felt that COC now had a better understanding of how churches operate, and since he sat on the advisory committee of the COC, he could update them on new developments implemented by the COC.
Foong denied that he had ever sat on any such advisory committee and distanced himself from the contents of the email. He declared to the court that he was a professional and a well-respected Christian elder in the community and that he would not tell a Christian to do something that is improper.
Court resumed at 2.30 pm.