Accused had approached “long-time friend and personal advisor” Foong Daw Ching to obtain “genuine advice”; prosecution alleges that the true motive was to “test out things” to avoid any issues in year-end audit.
Over the last week, deputy public prosecutor Christopher Ong went to great lengths in seeking to establish that defendant Kong Hee exerted full control over Xtron.
This afternoon, he suggested that Kong, along with the other five accused, had been less than fully accountable to the church’s auditors.
The DPP put to Kong that instead of consulting Joseph Toh, the church’s then engagement partner who was directly responsible for signing off CHC’s books, the accused had approached the audit firm’s managing partner Foong Daw Ching—and intentionally given him an incomplete picture of what was really going on.
He suggested that they did so with the motive to use Foong’s responses to “test out things” in order to avoid any issues come financial year end with Toh.
In presenting his case, DPP Ong showed the court a 2004 email in which Kong had said he did not want “to come to the end of the year and have another surprise from Joseph the Auditor.”
The DPP suggested that Kong knew Toh was the actual auditor in charge of CHC’s books then, but choose to consult Foong instead.
To this, Kong explained that while he knew Toh was handling the CHC accounts then, he understood him to be Foong’s assistant. Foong knew, “better than anyone else,” the church’s concerns about disclosure sensitivities, said Kong.
Kong also sought to explain to the court that there was nothing “deceptive” going on behind an “off-the-record” meeting arranged by co-accused Tan Ye Peng. The purpose of it, he said, was to seek advise from Foong in explaining the church’s disclosure sensitivities to Toh, and not to hide information from him.
“We went to Brother Foong because Brother Foong knew us more than any of the others in his company. If he didn’t want to see us, if he felt that it’s not appropriate for Ye Peng to talk to him, he would have redirected Ye Peng to someone else,” he said.
“We went to Brother Foong not because Brother Foong was a pushover or he was softer … and we could test the waters, push him around. Brother Foong was the founder of TFW and Baker Tilly. He is a strong leader. People who knew him knew him to be an authoritative man. We went to Brother Foong because Brother Foong was the boss,” he elaborated.
Kong further added, “We went to him because we wanted genuine advice. Unless the learned DPP is saying that Brother Foong is also part of the conspiracy, that he knew that they were wrong and he somehow ask his auditors to gloss over it, to turn a blind eye toward them, Brother Foong didn’t tell us, he didn’t tell me that they were sham transactions, that they were unauthorised use of Building Fund.”
The prosecution swiftly rebutted this, charging that Foong would not have been able to detect any “sham” elements in the church’s transactions because the accused made sure not to disclose sufficient information to him.
Since the trial proceedings began in May 2013, the court has heard that the church leadership took Foong’s advise to have the same auditor handling the books for both CHC and Xtron, for purposes of greater transparency. The church’s auditors knew building fund monies had been invested into Xtron through bonds, and that the bond proceeds went toward funding the Crossover Project.
Foong, a “long-time friend and personal advisor” to Kong, had also been well aware of the church leadership’s concern about sensitivities surrounding the funding of the Crossover Project, given that it was fronted by the wife of the church’s senior pastor himself.
“How much clearer could it be?” Kong asked.
“ … if I know that my house is dirty and that somebody that—is scrutinising my home, why will I invite him to come to my home and have the possibility of finding dirt, something wrong? I will want to stay as far away from him as possible. Why would we—why would we want to take a risk, if we have something to hide … unless we genuinely wanted his advice, your Honour?”
Court resumes at 9:30am tomorrow.
中文报道 – 城市丰收审讯：康希：“还能够更清楚吗？”