Defendant and former church fund manager Chew Eng Han contests Kong Hee’s evidence that his fund management firm was the one responsible for making decisions about the church’s investments.
Chew is the church’s former fund manager; his fund management firm, AMAC Capital Partners, had been given the investment mandate by the CHC management board to invest the church’s funds.
Along with five other CHC leaders, Chew is accused for conspiring to misuse the church’s building fund for unauthorised purposes, in this case, the Crossover Project.
In his statement to the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), Kong had said that Chew was the one who mooted the idea for the issuance of Xtron bonds.
In response to this, Chew put to the court that while he came up with the idea of using bonds as a financial instrument, the idea to use the church’s building fund monies to finance the Crossover Project came from co-defendant Tan Ye Peng.
When asked by Chew to agree or disagree, Kong replied that he did not wish to speculate.
Chew also took issue with Kong’s CAD statement that AMAC was the investment firm appointed to “make decisions on our investment.”
He stated that if he had truly been responsible for making decisions about the church’s Xtron bond investments, he would have stationed himself in Los Angeles and carried out his due diligence in proper management of the investment.
Chew added that it was “ridiculous” for AMAC to be making decisions on the investments when he had never gone to US in relation to the Crossover Project; he had neither participated in budgeting matters for the US album nor communicated with US music producer Justin Herz.
To that, Kong agreed, but pointed out that AMAC was responsible for structuring the bonds; the decision to buy Xtron bonds to fund the Crossover Project was ultimately made by the management board, and on Xtron
The court also saw earlier today through email evidence that Chew had been for the idea of the church funding the Crossover Project directly. He had later on accepted Kong’s explanations for why it had to be carried out otherwise.
He agreed with Kong that there was nothing wrong in keeping things “discreet,” especially with a project as sensitive as the Crossover Project.
Asked if he believed “in the integrity of the Crossover Project,” that it was done with “pure motives,” and that the Crossover team had every honest intention to do good for the church, Kong replied yes.
Chew’s next question then came, “As the senior pastor of City Harvest Church, as a man of God, wouldn’t it be responsible and right for you to take responsibility as the key decision-maker for the financing of the Crossover Project?”
Kong responded that his role was to negotiate the budgets with the US parties; he was not responsible for making decisions with regards to the financing of the Crossover Project.
His reply—“Your Honor, I wish I could do everything, and be a Superman, but I was working very, very hard in the mission field. I was doing the mission programme, doing church planting, while trying to ensure that the spiritual ministry of the church was well taken care of.”
“I did my level best for the budgeting for the US. I know my strength and my weaknesses. I’m not a perfect man, your Honor. No one is. I’m not strong in financial instruments or financing. That is why I left it to financial experts and lawyers and auditors, as well as the management board, because in it there were also people who are more well-versed than I am to make the decision. Church is so big,your Honor. It is very difficult for one man to make all the decision, even though I wish that I could make all of them.”
He also added that he takes responsibility for saying “yes” to the bonds, subject to approval from lawyers and auditors before the management board makes the final decision.
“… we have a church that’s managed by a board, supported by subcommittees, investment committee was involved, management board was involved. We have a board of trustee. So it’s a very long answer to the question: will I take responsibility? I want to take responsibility, but, in this area, I have tasked the management board to make the decision,” said Kong.
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