Auditor Sim Guan Seng confirmed on the stand this morning that he had discussed with the accused key audit points including impairment of the Xtron bonds before signing off; he also confirmed that by 2010 all funds material to case had been returned to the church.
First Bart Simpson was mentioned in court by the prosecution. This morning, Santa Claus was added to the lineup.
In his cross-examination of Baker Tilly auditor Sim Guan Seng, senior counsel N. Sreenivasan painted an imaginary scenario: if management set up a company to lend money to gamblers, and if the management said that if the gambler could not pay his debt, Santa Claus would pay, would Sim, as a auditor, accept that?
Sim replied, “I don’t believe in Santa Claus so I won’t accept that.”
Sreenivasan countered: “So now, what a good auditor would do, quite often, is to say ‘Listen, I will feel more comfortable if you get a proper valuation done by a qualified body’, am I right?”
Sim agreed that he would advise his client to do so.
The defense counsel used this quirky scenario to underscore that the management of City Harvest Church had in fact taken the advice of its auditor and obtained valuation from an independent valuation firm Censere for the unquoted Xtron bonds it had bought.
Sim also agreed with Sreenivasan that every entry concerning the bonds in CHC’s books was a “true, fair and accurate entry”.
Sreenivasan questioned Sim about the CHC audit for 2010, when Baker Tilly began the CHC audit for 2010 he was aware of “huge amounts of money” coming back to CHC from Xtron. Sim confirmed that he was aware of that, as well as the fact that the investment monies from the Special Opportunities Fund had been returned to CHC, and that Firna bonds had been redeemed. Sim agreed with Sreenivasan that he knew all the funds had been paid back “with interest” and all these transactions had been accurately captured in CHC’s books.
The fact the CHC management had taken the advice of its auditors seriously had been broached earlier by senior counsel Kenneth Tan, who established that prosecution witness Sim Guan Seng had in fact discussed at length with John Lam the Xtron bonds and the convertible feature, as well as the reasons behind them.
In the same meeting, Lam had disclosed to Sim the relationship between CHC and Xtron. He said that they had common interest and worked together towards common objectives, but they had different management and maintained an “arm’s length” relationship.
In the course of cross-examination, Sim told the court that the valuation of the amended Xtron bonds was done without taking into account the Standard Chartered loan. However, Tan presented evidence from Baker Tilly’s records that showed that the firm had been provided full disclosure of the Standard
Chartered mortgage loan CHC had taken to purchase the Riverwalk property in August 2008.
The cross examination resumed at 2.30pm with senior counsel Michael Khoo.
Timelines For CHC And Xtron Audits