Investigation Officer Kevin Han admits CAD did not seize certain relevant documents from CHC and Xtron’s auditors. CAD also failed to seize soft copy evidence from Baker Tilly.
Documents not seized by the Commercial Affairs Department formed the crux of the court hearing this morning. The court heard that while CAD’s investigation of CHC involved seizure of all hard and soft copies, including devices such as laptops, CAD only seized hard copies of Baker Tilly—CHC and Xtron’s auditors—records.
Taking the stand this morning was the prosecution’s 13th witness, Kevin Han, the lead investigation officer who oversaw the CAD investigation into the alleged misappropriation of funds by the six accused leaders of CHC. He told the court he has been working for the CAD for six years to date.
In the course of the cross-examination this morning, Han had agreed with Edwin Tong, defense counsel for Kong Hee, that CAD had seized documents in order to “ascertain the truth” of what had happened, and all relevant documents should have been seized. Tong also questioned Han as to whether he was thoroughly satisfied with the investigations and his recommendations to the prosecution that the charges be brought against the accused, to which he replied he was.
However, upon further questioning by Tong, Han testified that CAD did not seize certain documents during its investigation, including Baker Tilly’s audit working papers of CHC’s financial years of 2003 and 2004, and audit working papers for Xtron’s financial years of 2003, 2004 and 2009.
Han also confirmed that CAD did not seize any soft copy documents or electronic records from CHC’s auditors during its investigations and that he had not known that there were audit working papers in soft copy. He admitted he did not ask about soft copy documents.
It was also established that, upon the orders of the Attorney General’s Chambers, CAD officers seized documents from Baker Tilly as late as Sep. 13, 2013, in the middle of the second tranche of this trial. Among the items seized were two “blue” files marked “CHC” and “Xtron”, which contained documents created in the result of a “post-mortem” exercise conducted by Baker Tilly after investigation had started. There were also documents showing correspondences between Baker Tilly’s partners, Baker Tilly and its former public relations firm Trans Communications, and the audit working papers of CHC for FY 2012.
Following these questions, deputy public prosecutor Mavis Chionh objected to Tong’s point. “Is my learned friend attempting to insinuate, that the IO, who has been kept out of court all this time, was told by the prosecution of the witness’s evidence nevertheless?”
Earlier, the defense counsel had also questioned the witness on why did CAD not seize document relating to a special audit conducted by Baker Tilly in 2003. DPP Chionh objected. “The question of why the witness did not seize a particular item is entirely irrelevant, unless, of course, my learned friend is intending to make the accusation that the investigation was biased to an extent that it materially affected the course of the investigation.”
Today began with a short examination-in-chief with Chionh simply clarifying with Han the dates when CHC’s board of trustees Jeffrey Cheong Tuck Mun and Tan Yew Meng were interviewed by the CAD. The cross-examination proceeded based on Han’s conditioned statement.
The court also heard that the CHC case was one that saw a lengthy investigation period of two years and two months (before the charges were formally made), involving over 30 investigation officers in the reviewing of evidence. Forensic analysts from the Technology Crime Forensic Branch also assisted with the review of evidence.
The day ended on a “cliffhanger” when senior counsel Michael Khoo asked the witness when CAD’s first information report on CHC was dated.
“The first information report for this case, as I mentioned, consists of a few, but if I were to put a date to it, the earliest would be 2005, your Honor,” Han replied. In his conditioned statement, Han declared he has been lead investigation officer on this case since Apr. 30, 2010, and he filed his first report against the accused on May 3, 2010.
Chionh vigorously contested the admissibility of any information from 2005 as it did not relate to the charges faced by the accused. Later she told the court that in that year, some financial institutions had raised an issue regarding CHC. Chionh claimed sensitivity of information regarding the 2005 First Information Report.
Ultimately the court ruled that the DPP could submit the documents in open court tomorrow morning, in the absence of the witness.
Court resumes tomorrow at 9.30am.